“Syria: from Destruction to Reconstruction”

Lord Hylton

This was the title of a conference, organized in London by the Cambridge-based European Centre for the Study of Extremism, director Dr Makram Khoury-Machool, on 5th and 6th April.

Lord Williams of Oystermouth (formerly Archbishop of Canterbury) gave the keynote address. Other speakers included Lord Eames, formerly Archbishop of Armagh, Congressman D Kucinich of Ohio, the Iranian Ambassador, and Peter Ford, a former British Ambassador to Syria.  The Syrian Government Ministers for Tourism and Reconciliation had been invited.  I believe they spoke on a video-link, but were unable to come to London, because visas were refused.  The veteran journalist, Jonathan Steele, and Vanessa Beeley, an independent journalist who has lived in Syria for many months, also spoke, together with others.

Lord Williams said that all the combatants in Syria should acknowledge their share in the evil so widely done. He found hope in the long history of co-existence and culture.  He hoped that an effective ceasefire would allow civil society to rebuild health and education services.  The common good should outweigh particular interests, and so protect all minority groups.

Lord Eames spoke from his direct experience of the Northern Ireland peace process, which led to the Belfast Agreement. He underlined the need for trust, even if this means that one must sit down with murderers.  Trust has, of course, been notably lacking, as may be seen from several inconclusive rounds of talks in Geneva.  He said it is essential to discover who can actually deliver on the ground, in situations of violent conflict.  Convincing the militant parties that their interest in peace is greater than their interest in continuing to fight, is often the key.

Vanessa Beeley raised important questions about the White Helmets, who have been so publicized by western media. They have worked only in areas controlled by Al Qaeda and ISIS.  They are alleged to have taken part in the burning of two towns and in the killing of some prisoners.

Jonathan Steele confirmed that the Syrian Government has a broad basis of support and now controls some 75% of the inhabited land. He mentioned the large silent majority, who long for the return of peace, if they haven’t already left Syria.  He criticized western media for failing to report the large number of foreign fighters and the quantities of arms and explosives sent by outside powers, mainly to the insurgents.  The Iranian Ambassador said he could see no military solution to the war in Syria.

My conclusion was that a complex internal situation has been made vastly more difficult by outside intervention. This has come from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Turkey, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Russia and most recently the USA, not to speak of jihadis from around the world.  Western powers have steadily demanded that the Assad family leave power, but why should they do so when they are winning?

I hope the conference has dispelled some misapprehensions, and encouraged all concerned to work harder for the degree of peace necessary, to enable reconstruction to start and refugees and displaced people to return home.


8 comments for ““Syria: from Destruction to Reconstruction”

  1. maude elwes
    11/04/2017 at 12:56 pm

    This thread is so very important as in a myopic way it reflects on Western politics across the board. What are we doing? Where are we going? Is this the way we want our world to be?

    This morning on the Debating Europe website they ask a similar question. Was Trump Right to Launch the Syria Missile Attacks? Well was he? Our Front bench is telling us they think so.

    I wrote this on DE in response to that question:


    Lets put it this way. When Obama came to the UK to tell us how to vote on the In/Out Brexit issue and we told him to get lost, would you be asking us if Obama was right to launch a missile strike on us in any part of our country?

    What Trump has done must be illegal in a civilised world. And it is sad to have to accept this as I had hoped he would turn out to be a President worth the flack he was taking.

    Assad, whether we in the West like him or not, was the choice of the Syrian people. Just as the guy in the Ukraine was before the US/EU coup on the citizens of that countries choice of leader.

    It is time the West stopped this coalition of barbarism. Iraq, followed by Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria is a crime against humanity. What pisses them off is Russia has remained their friend even in times of serious distress for them. He turned out to be a friend in truth not a fair weather guy.

    However, all that aside, what is the real political aim of the West alliance in Syria and the rest of these Middle Eastern countries, what are they really after? Killing of the innocent whether done with gas or Tomahawk missiles makes not one shadow of difference, death is death. So, the cry of chemical weapons is only relevant if they believe it is going to affect them in some way or other. Not if it is killing babies that Mr President is shown in ghastly pictures. Coalition forces are leaving bodies of all ages strewn around Mosul.

    Trump may decide it would be expedient to simply launch missile strikes on us all, if it suits the Pentagon. Would that be right? I don’t think so.


    • 14/04/2017 at 1:04 pm

      Clear as usual, thank you, maude;

      however, one or two “weaknesses” prevail :-
      (1) “_ _ _ , whether we in the west like it or not, was the choice of the _ _ _ people”.
      So was Hitler.
      Substantially every Government (world-wide, without exception maybe ?) has only got in by the largest-minority, and “never” intending to recognise and best-meet every-minority of the People’s’ Needs;
      and again “every” government has failed and usually very quickly, to honour its manifesto, undertakings, and promises.
      (2) Also, maude you risk getting us further “stuck” (in the slow muddy ‘living-beyond our and the Earth’s Means “quicksand” into which we have been both mentally and spiritually insidiously sinking since the 19th century upsurge of the Industrial Revolution-
      namely since 2000 now
      (i) we British are “dependent” upon each consuming (as an ‘average’ across our 64 million population ) five(5) times our fair share [500% more than, and the biggest of all European countries’ aggregated share] – of the whole Earth’s lifesupports (resources);
      (ii) USAmericans consume
      [including wasting, extincting, and one-way destroying) nine(9) times [900% more than] their fair share.
      (iii) Each Chinese (however) “only” consumes 10%% more than their fair share.
      [source “How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth”. Note further: yesterday a young American involved in non-fiction library all-round stocking of publications and records replied to a question as to the “democratic participation of all Americans” – [“] we should be endeavouring to achieve at least 90% sustain-worthily democratic Activism – whereas in fact,
      including our influence on billions of people overseas,
      we are becoming >100% “slacktivists” .

      Contrast-&-Deeply-Scrutinise please,
      before (sweetly) Comparing and “decisively-efficiently” (but one-eyed-ly) plumping-for the “best rhetoric available”:

      Hitler’s Third Reich would undoubtedly have been at least 1000-years “sustainable” politically and economicly if the Nazis had won WW2 –

      but our “free-world” finding was that it
      [NB please] –
      had become – [not necessarily ‘started-out-as’] –

    • 03/05/2017 at 2:52 pm

      maude – how may we
      even preliminarily
      publicly discuss
      “What is the World we need ?” –
      “How shall we best and sustainworthily plan and implement that World ? ”

      [I’m not to happy about people’s possibly wildly varying interpretations of our contrasting terms here –
      yours “want”
      mine “need” ] … ???

  2. Pingback: A Necessity – ?
  3. 28/04/2017 at 11:42 am

    “From Destruction to Re-Construction” –

    surely it should be from Destruction to
    “New-and-Longest-Term Sustain-Worthy Construction” ?
    It is the same National and International “Gordian-Knot”
    as when the Individual security-lamp over the concrete steps leading up to my housing-association rental single bedsit-flat failed,
    causing me to fall and crack my kneecap right across [very painful, but soon hospitalised – ]
    but also causing serious disruption to the care of my voluntary caree, a commonwealth-great-grandmother aged 92, healthy-spirited, but frail, disabled and variously impaired –

    and in turn and in view of the not-for-profit, power nor prestige websites I run (out of my own pocket, and I am permanently of no assets and on a lowest-income)
    to share with other people vital factors, facts and solutions to many of our Local, National and United-Nations ecolonomic and individual-human-development shortcomings
    and evident “multiple-corruptions” [i.e. of mind, body and spirit not just of money] that are being covered-up by all the Authorities and “Leaders” –

    i had to say to the services people
    “Look, I’m grateful for the Accident-and-Emergency first-response and follow-up –
    but the last thing we now need is to be “stirred-back-into” an already clearly failed and failing Civilisation -“.

    -especially since all our efforts and sufferings are being directed into positively-peaceful-radical-reform and into “Self-and-Civilisation Sustain-worthy-ing” and a “Holistic Health Building Movement” quite separately and unencumbered by the “NHS”
    (which has never been a satisfactory Health-Buiooder
    but has been and still appears to be
    a very good “National Illnesses and Hospitals Sector”) –
    The Avoided Need,
    of “Self-&-Civilisation Sustain-Worthy-ing”
    is clearly worldwide
    and extends from top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, and corner to corner,

    and is clearly never going to succeed on the existing historical
    “locked-away-blind-to-the-real-world” Constitutions,
    blind to the to the Dominantly Destructive War-Adversary Practicums
    and to Utterly-Wasteful and Extinction-Supporting Economics “Education”, “Culture”, and “Religions”.

    “Re-Building” is not an answer any more –

    “New Co-Sustainworthying Building and Human-Lifestyling”
    has become
    the New-Wisdom

    and thereunder should be shouldered as the governance and ‘grass-roots’ Personal and Earth-Duty “Order of the Day”.
    [For lists of just some of the avoided new advances in both knowledge and know-how visit http://www.lifefresh.co.uk and follow at least the ‘Basics’ pages]

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