Former British ambassador to Syria accuses Foreign Office of lying about the country’s civil war
Joe Watts, so-called ‘Independent’, Dec 23 2016
The ex-British Ambassador to Syria has accused the Foreign Office of lying over the country’s civil war and said British policy there has “made the situation worse.” Peter Ford said the Whitehall department led by Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond before him had “gotten Syria wrong every step of the way” and was now falsely claiming Assad could not control the country when he is “well on the way to doing so.” It comes after the SAA reported that it had taken full control of Aleppo following weeks of heavy bombing and fighting in and around the city. Ford, who was Britain’s ambassador to Syria from 1999 to 2003, claimed that Britain had misread and misrepresented the situation in the country since the start of the conflict. He said:
I’m sorry to say that the British Foreign Office, to which I used to belong, has gotten Syria wrong every step of the way. They told us at the beginning that Assad’s demise was imminent. They told us he’d be gone by Xmas. They didn’t say which Xmas, so they could still be proven correct. But then they told us that the opposition was dominated by these so-called ‘moderates’. That proved not to be the case. And now they’re telling us another big lie: that Assad can’t control the rest of the country. Well, I’ve got news for them. He’s well on the way to doing so. (Britain should have either) put everything onto the battlefield, including our own forces, or if in our judgement that was not realistic, as would have been my judgement, (it would have been better to) refrain from encouraging the opposition to mount a doomed campaign. (Our tough talk & little action) only led to hundreds of thousands of civilians being maimed and killed. We have made the situation worse. It was eminently foreseeable to anyone who was not intoxicated with wishful thinking.
In a statement last night, the SAA said it had “returned security to Aleppo.” The SAA called it a “crushing blow” for the rebels. The ICRC confirmed that “all civilians who wished to be evacuated have been, as well as the wounded and fighters.” Boris Johnson said after a meeting in Paris earlier this month that there could be no military solution, and Britain has consistently taken the line that Assad must go. A Foreign Office spox said:
Britain continues to believe in a Syrian-led political settlement. A political solution and transition away from Assad is the only way to end the suffering of the Syrian people. The Assad regime has the blood of hundreds of thousands on its hands. There is no way it can unite and bring stability to Syria. Britain has pledged more than £2.3b to support those affected by the Syrian conflict and sought to reduce the suffering with every diplomatic lever at our command.