Monday 28 May 2012 7:31 pm

Has the time come for military intervention to topple Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime?

YES Michael Weiss Military intervention in Syria isn’t so much a matter of preference as an inevitability. The Kofi Annan plan has failed, and even Annan himself has stopped just short of saying so. Last Friday’s horrifying, state-orchestrated massacre of 116 people, including women and children, in the village of Houla proves that a “negotiated settlement” at this stage is a fantasy. Not only will Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, not accept it, both the political and military wings of the Syrian opposition will never agree, especially if the result is such that the dictator leaves, but the murderous and torturous institutions of his dictatorship remain firmly in place. 15 months of inaction have led the country to the precipice of civil war; nothing short of the removal of this regime by force can prevent the country from going over the edge entirely. Michael Weiss is communications director at the Henry Jackson Society. NO Lindsey German Albert Einstein’s definition of madness was repeatedly to do the same thing, even though it had manifestly failed. It describes the foreign policy of the British and American governments. Military intervention in Syria is on the agenda again following the massacre in Houla on Friday. Everyone should condemn this brutal killing. But we should not allow sympathy for the dead to lead to intervention, costing far more lives. Recent wars have all been justified as humanitarian, to save lives and restore democracy. Hundreds of thousands have died in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The region is no more democratic and less stable than before. The more outside powers intervene, the greater the bloodshed will be. Covert intervention in Syria by western powers and Gulf states has already begun, with one aim only: illegal regime change. Syrians alone should decide their future. Lindsey German is convenor of the Stop the War Coalition.

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