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Christians will be massacred if Assad goes, says ex-ambassador

09 October 2015

KREMLIN POOL/AP

Matters of state: the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, briefs President Putin about Russian air operations in Syria, at Sochi, on Wednesday. They said in a joint television appearance that four Russian warships in the Caspian Sea had successfully launched 26 rockets at Islamic State targets in Syria

Matters of state: the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, briefs President Putin about Russian air operations in Syria, at Sochi, on Wednes...

THE Christian minority in Syria will be massacred if the West topples the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a former British ambassador to the country, Peter Ford, has said.

The British Prime Minister would have “blood on his hands” if he succeeded in ousting the Syrian dictator, Mr Ford said. President Assad was fighting a war of survival against Islamist international terrorism, he went on, and there was no moderate rebel opposition.

Mr Ford, an Arabist and former senior diplomat, who has served in Bahrain, Beirut, Riyadh, Paris, and Cairo, as well as Damascus, criticised Mr Cameron’s policy. He also defended the Russian bombing of jihadist positions, because, he said, it was based on a correct analysis of the situation.

“David Cameron’s policy is an utter shambles. The Foreign Office analysis is totally wrong, and the Russians have got it right,” Mr Ford told Sky News this week. “The fall of the regime will be opening a Pandora’s box such as we saw with the fall of Gaddafi in Libya, and when Saddam Hussein fell.

“Is this what David Cameron really wants? Does he not realise that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to the massacres of Christians, Shias, Alawites, Druze, and other minorities?

“Let us be clear here — most of the opposition groups are jihadists; most of the Free Syrian Army is just a footnote. If Assad was to fall — and the Russians thankfully realise this — it would be a disaster.”

The analysis by Mr Ford, who served in Syria a decade ago, corresponds with that of the Syrian RC Archbishop of Hassaké-Nisibi, the Rt Revd Jacques Behnan Hindo, who last week accused the United States of joining forces with al-Qaeda in Syria.

Archbishop Hindo said he believed that the CIA was arming and training al-Qaeda terrorists under “a different name”. He spoke out after the chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, said that Russia was bombing CIA-trained rebel groups.

Archbishop Hindo told the Vatican-based news agency Fides that he found Senator McCain’s words “disturbing”. He said that “they represent a blatant admission that behind the war against Assad there is also the CIA. There is something very disturbing about all this — there is a superpower that, since September 11, protests because the Russians hit the militias of al-Qaeda in Syria.

“What does it mean? [That] Al-Qaeda is now a US ally, just because in Syria it has a different name?”

Western powers had no right to be interfering in Syria, the Archbishop said: “The Syrians will decide if and when Assad has to go away, and not the Daesh [IS] or the West.

“Western propaganda keeps talking about moderate rebels, who do not exist.”

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