David Cameron, in his House of Common’s statement attempting to justify bombing Syria, used a blatant lie that there are 70,000 ‘moderate’ members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria. This plays exactly the same role as Tony Blair’s notorious lie that Iraq possessed WMD and that these could be used in 45 minutes.
In a letter to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Cameron claimed: ‘there are about 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters on the ground who do not belong to extremist groups.’
This is a straightforward lie. The reality of the FSA is known to every serious observer. But to avoid suggestion of bias anti-war and left wing groups will not be quoted but only the US military, supporters of bombing Syria, and Tories.
First, the actual commander of the US forces in Iraq and Syria explained the debacle which occurred when the US allocated $500 million to attempt to train ‘moderate’ anti-Assad forces in Syria.
‘General Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command… told Congress today that only “four or five” of the… U.S. trained moderate Syrian fighters remain in the fight against ISIS.
‘Christine Wormuth, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are currently between 100 and 120 fighters in a program that was slated to have trained 5,400 fighters in its first 12 months….
‘The first 54 graduates of the program were re-inserted into northern Syria in July and were quickly attacked by the Al Nusra Front, the dominant Islamist rebel group in Syria… When Austin was asked how many trained fighters remained in the fight he responded “it’s a small number,” before adding “the ones that are in the fight, we’re talking four or five.”’
The Daily Mail analysed the attempt to develop a similar programme of ‘moderate’ anti-Assad forces by the UK and US: ‘both the US and British soldiers abandoned a training programme in the Middle East designed to ready 5,000 moderates for battle several months ago after it went disastrously wrong.
‘In an embarrassment for Coalition nations, only around 100 actually underwent training because they had struggled to find Syrian recruits untainted by extremist affiliations.’
Regarding analysis by Tories: ‘Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the defence select committee, asked: ‘Where are these magical 70,000 people?’, as Tory MP John Baron said the Prime Minister was being “extremely optimistic”.
‘Dr Lewis told the Commons: “The suggestion there are 70,000 non-Islamist, moderate, credible ground forces, I have to say, is a revelation.”
‘Tory MP Peter Lilley said ‘there are no moderates’ and suggested there was only ‘a rag-bag group of clans and tribal forces with no coherent force’.
Even more bluntly Lilley stated: ‘I want you to convince me that what you refer to as the Free Syrian Army actually exists.’
The idea that there are 70,000 ‘moderate’ FSA forces when all the US military can train are ‘four or five’ is absolutely ridiculous.
Why, therefore, does Cameron state this absurd lie – which entirely ranks with Blair’s claim that Iraq had WMD which could be used in 45 minutes. It is because Cameron wants to conceal the reality which was entirely accurately described by Patrick Cockburn – and is the same as the one that took place in Libya after that country was bombed by NATO: ‘the departure of Assad would lead to a collapse of the state and the triumph of Isis and the self-declared caliphate.’
In short the development in Syria would be the same as in Iraq and Libya. Previously marginalised and powerless ‘jihadist’ groups would become extremely powerful. This would not only be horrific for the people of the countries concerned but also form a base for terrorist attacks such as those against Paris and Mali.
This is the reality that Cameron wants to conceal. This is why he invents the ridiculous lie there are 70,000 ‘moderate’ FSA in Syria.
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This article by John Ross, on David Cameron’s claim that there are 70,000 ‘moderate’ FSA in Syria, was originally published on Facebook.