William Hague has a foolproof plan for peace in Syria and Iraq

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Wednesday 25 November 2015 12:50
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With more than seven million displaced in Syria, a government led by the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and scores of insurgent groups - including the likes of Isis - murdering thousands in the country's civil war, it's clear that a solution must be sought to end the bloodshed.

MPs are due to debate in the Commons next week on whether or not Britain should begin air strikes in the country

Amid warnings that our strategy is failing

And the terror threat rising across Europe

The complexity of the situation was emphasised this week by the downing of a Russian jet by Turkish forces...

But fear not, because William Hague has a cunning plan

Writing for the Telegraph on Wednesday, the former foreign secretary explained that "standing aside is incompatible with basic humanity, morality and mercy".

And while he admitted that the invasion in Iraq in 2003 had been a mistake, he said doing the same in Syria is a must - pointing to the atrocities in Rwanda as an example of the price that is paid for non-intervention.

He argues that, unlike Iraq, there must be "defined military objectives and a coherent plan for the political leadership and system that will come afterwards"

And that maybe we should break-up Syria and Iraq as we know them

Referencing the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 (mapped below), Hague posits that the current borders in Iraq and Syria should not be considered "immutable".

If the leaders of either country cannot construct a state where all communities can live together, it will be right to consider international support for their partition.

A subdivided Syria might now be the only one that can be at peace.

Because partition worked so well in the past...

In his book, The Rise of Islamic State, the Independent's Patrick Cockburn argues that recent interventions (like Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011) have resulted in "absurd talk of 'nation-building'" from Western powers "which clearly had their own interests in mind just as Britain did when Lloyd George orchestrated the carve-up of the Ottoman Empire".

Doing the same in Iraq and Syria is far from straightforward:

As Iraq disintegrates into separate Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish regions, the process is likely to be painful and violent...

It seems unlikely that the country could be partitioned without extensive bloodshed and several million refugees.

A possible outcome is an Iraqi version of the wrenching violence that accompanied the partition in India in 1947.

The situation is equally bleak in Syria.

  • Patrick Cockburn

So, in short, good luck with re-drawing those borders

More: Patrick Cockburn - Is there any hope for military success?

More: Confused about the situation in the Middle East? This should help clear it up

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