The West is NOT working with Assad against ISIS, and it would be really idiotic to do so


2:43 pm - August 24th 2014

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Independent’s Partrick Cockburn writes: “West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State”.

This is absolute rubbish. Not one British official is quoted saying they would work with Assad against ISIS. Not even anonymously.

When the British Foreign Secretary was asked on Friday by the BBC if the UK was planning to work with Assad against ISIS, he said “No” outright. He added that working with Assad would “poison what we are trying to achieve”. And said it was not “practical or sensible”.

The UK’s sole role in the Iraqi crisis so far has been to provide humanitarian aid. Military involvement would lead to demands for a vote in Parliament, and that’s not happened yet (and unlikely it will happen soon). So far, we are even refraining from air-strikes, let alone working with Assad.

Could it be happening behind the scenes? Also unlikely. The UK has been helping the (moderate) rebels against Assad for years. We have also continuously called for Assad to go. There is absolutely no trust between the UK and Assad. So the chances that we would suddenly start cooperating and trusting each other is remote.

Is the United States working with him? The sole evidence is the Independent’s claim that the US army passed on intelligence about the exact location of “jihadi leaders” through the the German intelligence service to Assad. But Assad has always known where ISIS are because he has been tracking their movements carefully.

One U.S. General has called for Obama to work with Assad against ISIS, but its not yet official US government policy.

We would be foolish to work with Assad against ISIS anyway

Doing so would be a monumental disaster for two reasons.

First, it would mean we neatly fell into Assad’s gameplan. We had always known from the start that Assad wanted to play on the west’s fears by portraying his opposition as Islamic radicals. When he failed in convincing people, he actively worked to build up ISIS.

As recently as 2012, Isil was a marginalised movement confined to a small area of Iraq. Then Mr Assad emptied Sednaya jail near Damascus of some of its most dangerous jihadist prisoners. If he hoped that these men would join Isil and strengthen its leadership, then that aspiration was certainly fulfilled. A number of figures in the movement’s hierarchy are believed to be former inmates of Syrian prisons, carefully released by the regime.

By 2013, Isil had managed to capture oilfields in eastern Syria. But to profit from these assets, they needed to find a customer for the oil. Mr Assad’s regime stepped in and began buying oil from Isil, thereby helping to fund the movement, according to Western and Middle Eastern governments.

Assad always knew that the west is more scared of Islamic militants than dictators. So he helped build ISIL / ISIS as his exit strategy, so we would reach a point where we’d work with him to defeat them, thereby ensuring Assad stays in power.

Working with Assad against ISIS would make us absolute suckers who fell for his grand plan. There are even cartoons across the Middle East that say it explicitly.

Secondly, working with Assad would be the best recruiting agent for jihadis across the world. Assad is reviled across the Muslim world, having destroyed Syria and killed nearly 200,000 people. He has made millions homeless and forced them into refugee camps.

This sort of short-termist, idiotic thinking from the West helps the jihadis. By working with Assad the West would end up creating more Jihadis and threaten our security for generations.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: a) Section ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East

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Reader comments


“The US has already covertly assisted the Assad government by passing on intelligence about the exact location of jihadi leaders through the BND, the German intelligence service, a source has told The Independent.”

US working with Bashar Al-Assad would be catastrophic! I do believe that countries like, US, UK,Iraq, and Russia should work together to defeat ISIS. Those air strikes is the bare minimumal. It’s like putting a band-aid over a gun shot wound. I don’t like war but boots on the ground is necessary if we want to rectify this situation. To stop this attempt to genocide the Middle East Christians we need to act now (strategically).

Britain shouldn’t line up with Assad against ISIS because…

Well, wasn’t Assad’s dad in the firing-line for Lockerbie until he was needed in the first Gulf War and the blame was conveniently and very unconvincingly placed on Libya. Syria was suddenly our pal. As for Libya, Gaddafi was for ages the epitome of Third World radicalism, then suddenly he was allowed into the hallowed portals of the ‘International Community’ (albeit having formally to take the rap for Lockerbie, however a small price to pay in order to flog his oil). Then, all of a sudden, he’s an evil dictator again, and Britain, France and the USA back the opposition to him.

Of course Britain could help Assad wallop ISIS without looking any more foolish, duplicitous and hypocritical in the eyes of the world. There’s been enough change of hearts when it comes to backing nasty dictatorships then helping to overthrow then, for any British government to change the line here without looking even more of a laughing stock than it does when it categorically rules out working with Assad.

If one wants to look at ‘short-termist, idiotic thinking’ that helps create jihadists, then helping to overthrow Gaddafi was an example of that. And the Western strategy in Libya has been repeated in respect of Syria, with the ‘Assad must go’ line. And, now that the secular elements against Assad are pretty much marginalised by jihadists, does it make sense for the British government categorically to rule out working with Assad to wallop ISIS? After all, things have worked out so well in Libya, haven’t they?

Of course, should ISIS continue to maraud its way across Iraq and Syria, and should the Syrian military be one of the few bulwarks against it, then eventually the various Western governments might well have to seek working with Assad on the grounds that his regime is a better bet for security than continuing their vendetta against him. Would this still be a foolish decision?

It’s worth bearing in mind a few things. Politicans tend to lie. Quite a lot. They also tend to flip flop, U turn and change their positions. What is unfolding across the Middle East is more complex than just good guys vs the bad guys. In the case of the ISIS Crisis (do you like that?) the presumed good guys (that’s the west in case you were in any doubt) have a stake in creating this monster, through our alliances with Saudi and Qatar. The issue of funding and support for ISIS is not something the BBC like to talk about too much, but suffice to say that without private Saudi funding and an abundance of American weaponary IS would really not have the wings it does now. Had the west not blundered its way into Iraq in the first place, there would be no problem with radical Islam there now. The question of alligning ourselves with Assad to fight the mutal enemy in Syria, I’m afraid it’s now inevitable. This alliance must happen if ISIS is to be defeated. In my opinion we should have been working with Assad right from the off to crush the militant factions among Syrias rebels. I’m sorry but when western governments get all uppity about human rights abuses abroad, I tend not to listen. Our support for human rights is highly selective and usally tied into broader economic and cynical geo-political strategies.

You are absolutely right that working with Assad would be a recruiting line for ISIS, Sunny. There can be no alliance.

At the same time. I think that we have to seriously consider the prospect of ISIS increasing its grip on more of Syria. Some sort of interdiction to this may have to be planned. Obviously in any instances of use of air-strikes, the US will need at least to warn the Syrian government where it will be striking.

And we have to face up to the fact that any strikes on ISIS will objectively aid Assad, at least in the short term. There’s no getting round that.

I wish there was a way of getting rid of Assad, but I find ISIS even more horrifying. Perhaps the best that could be hoped for is some kind of truce and power-sharing government betwen the regime and the FSA. Ideally with Assad going into exile. I know that sounds far-fetched and none of the options are good, but the possibilty of ISIS taking Syria as a whole doesn’t bear thinking about.

I wonder if and at what point Russia might get involved to protect its ‘interests’.

6. Dave Roberts.

So Sunny, we now know that the west isn’t working with Assad because everyone says that they aren’t. Bit of a non story really.

nice to see sunny hundal defending the islamic extremists here the same way on channel 4 news last night he tried but failed to deny this racial element concerning this muslim on white child paedophilia in rotherham,funny that mate when these pakistani paedophiles often called these white children, white bitches and white trash after them and there fellow muslim child molesters gang raped these children,still denying the racial element mr hundal.go ask the parents of these children if there children was not targeted because of the colour of there skin,they say they was,still denying the racial element here mr hundal.how much proof do you need that these pakistani muslim paedophiles targeted these white children only because they was white,why dont you go and meet these white children and there familys and ask them was this racial abuse they suffered alongside sexual abuse and torture because they was white children,people like you have been exposed for what you are,appeasers of not only muslim extremists,but appeasers of these vile muslim paedophiles who have destroyed innocent,defenceless children lifes,i hope you and your fellow leftist labour party lot are proud of that mr hundal.

8. douglas clark

stuart,

Assuming for a moment that you are right, then these children will be completely traumatised. So, it ill-behoves you to suggest that Sunny should go and meet them. Leave themalone to recover and stop trying to pretend they should be any sort of media spectacle.

Your rant, for that is all it is, makes no mention of vile white priests, politicians and others who pursue their identical proclivities. Just go with ‘dem evil muslims’. Nowt about evil white people.

Your comment is a disgrace.

Assad is the man he’s stomping on the neocon commie kosher Islamic turd burglars. Not to mention he’s a blue eyed devil.

The West Will Not Defeat ISIS (IS) Without Assads Help !

Look at past and present American policy with both Iraq/Iran. Now your my buddy, now your not, now you are again. Don’t put your money on it what next year will be.

Assad is NOW the silent Friendly Dictator.

stuart @7

How do you factor in a racial element when looking at the Saville case or the wholesale child abuse by Catholic priests. The one common factor is the class of the children/adolescents involved and the recognition by the abusers that little will be done.


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