It is not often that I feel gratitude for President Putin, but his intransigence over Syria and its effect on future Western involvement in the war could be called a blessing in disguise.
While I have reservations over the Russian leader’s integrity and questions over his support of President Assad, his forthright condemnation of the proposed active military involvement on behalf of the Syrian rebels is timely and needed. It is said that terrorists are among their ranks now and it is claimed that the nationality and beliefs of 90 per cent of opposition forces are unknown, but certainly dubious; they, also, like Assad’s forces, have carried out unspeakable acts of brutality against civilians including the use of nerve gas. Are these our future military allies?
If Putin, through his unequivocal rejection of the support for action from Obama, Cameron and Hollande, causes the world to pause and think, he has done it a favour. The diplomatic cause has been damaged by their bellicose approach and the Geneva conference in July, once seen as the best conduit to peace, must be in doubt. However, today is a new “present” and an opportunity for a new initiative based on common sense and compassion and a unity of purpose to help the people and land of Syria, not to hurt them further through hasty action. I hope the G8 meeting sees it this way, and that plain speaking of the truth continues.