3 thoughts on “Syria: "Great and unmatched wisdom"”

  1. Edward Mortimer

    You may be a little unfair on President George H.W. Bush, in describing Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds as “even more blatant than when the George H.W. Bush administration urged them to rise against Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War and then left them to be massacred”. The Iraqis whom he comprehensively betrayed were the Shia in the south, who were left to their fate when his spokesman infamously declared that Saddam’s use of helicopter gunships against them was “OK”, i.e. not a breach of the ceasefire terms which forbade the use of any aircraft except for humanitarian purposes. Although the Kurds too were initially abandoned, a month later Bush did come to their rescue with Operation Provide Comfort, which set up a no-fly zone in northern Iraq, effectively allowing them to set up an autonomous administration which survives to this day.
    A more notorious betrayal was that of Henry Kissinger (then Secretary of State in the Ford administration) when he acquiesced in the 1975 Algiers agreement between Saddam and the Shah (the latter having up to that point supported the Kurdish resistance in Iraq, with US encouragement). It was on this occasion that Kissinger is alleged to have said “covert action should not be confused with missionary work”.

    1. With reference to Edward Mortimer’s comment, let us not forget for the record that the initiative to create a ’safe haven’ for the Iraqi Kurds in April 1991 under Operation Provide Comfort came from the UK’s Prime Minister, John Major, with protection forces based in Turkey provided by the UK, EU partners and (after some resistance) the US. The operation was covered by the UK-sponsored Security Council Resolution 688 and constituted an unprecedented involvement by the UN in the internal security of a member state.

      1. Further to Alan Munro’s comment regarding Provide Comfort, I paid an official visit to Ankara in 1991, and took the opportunity on the middle day of my visit to fly up to Diyarbakir in Eastern Turkey, where our planes were based to enforce the no fly zone against Saddam’s helicopter gunships. We then transferred to a Chinook and flew down the Tigris river to Zavko in Iraq to visit 3 Commando Brigade that was supporting the Kurds, and also to see some of the work of Medecins Sans Frontieres. It was a remarkably successful operation, and the deep gratitude of all the Kurds I met was very moving.

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