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Friday, September 13, 2013

Putin's Words

Vladimir Putin has made an appeal to the America people, against possible military action.

Before I start, I appreciate that this awful civil war has more than one side, but this blog post is about Putin and his relationship with Assad.

Let's remember a few facts.

After huge political changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, an uprising began in Syria with mass protests, sparked by the torture of children that had written anti-Assad graffiti.

2 years later - 100,000 people have been killed.  1,500,000 are refugees in nearby countries.  4,000,000 are internally displaced.  I do not have figures on the injured but one can only imagine.

Not all of the 100,000 dead will have been killed by Assad and his forces.  But many have.  Any leader of a country that tortures, bombs and quite probably gasses his own citizens should not be allowed to continue in control of said country.

However, as Mr Putin pointed out, international law only allows a country to defend itself, or when authorised by the security council which would tend to be in cases of when one country has invaded another.

So, international law advises that if you are a leader of a country, you should not attack another country - but it is ok to wipe out your own citizens.

Before anyone takes Mr Putin's words too seriously, please may I remind you of his occupation of Georgia, his brutal wars in Chechnya, his cyber-attack on Estonia and gas-blockade of Ukraine in the depths of winter.

On Russian soil, may I mention Anna Politkovskaya's murder?  Guess what she was doing?  Investigative journalism.  On Chechnya.  How many other journalists have been murdered in Russia?  200?

Although we have just proved that killing your own citizens is of course perfectly acceptable.

Perhaps the real reason Mr Putin is so against supporting the Syrian uprising, is that he faced protests of his own shortly after the Arab Spring, after the Russian constitution was changed to allow Putin to run for a third term as president (albeit anyone who believes that Medvedev was really in charge in the 4 years prior is quite possibly deluded).

Of course, arms sales are useful to the Russian economy, and having access to a naval base in the Mediterranean is very useful for future military strategy.  But supporting a fellow-autocrat under fire from protesters looking for freedom and liberty is a useful sign to those back home who may wish to overthrow your regime.

I could even go on to mention the unusual and unexpected deaths of those in the UK, like Mr Litvinenko.  Or the imprisoning of such figures as Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

If you ask me, and this is why you are reading my blog, you put your trust in Assad and Putin in the same way that our predecessors trusted Hitler not to invade Poland.

I do not for a second think the proposed negotiations will be anything other than a Saddam-style cat and mouse game to give Assad more time to butcher civilians in this brutal and complex civil war.  I hope I am wrong and peace soon prevails.

In my view it is absolutely disgraceful that we allow such barbarous regimes to exist.  It is a stain on human existence and I abhor it.