Former British Ambassador to Syria condemns Britain’s foreign policy

By April 19, 2017February 18th, 2021No Comments

In 2003, as Ambassador to Bahrain, Peter Ford says he sent critical memos to London before the Iraq War. Later he regretted not having been more outspoken. In his time in Damascus (2003-2006), he says he distanced himself more and more from the official policies.[6]

After 2006, he was criticised as a defender of the al-Assad regime in Syria. In 2016, he suggested opposition forces were responsible for an attack on a UN humanitarian convoy in September 2016 which caused the death of ten aid workers. A UN panel of inquiry said the attack was conducted from the air, and only Syrian and Russian air forces were operating in the area. The UN panel stated that it “did not have evidence to conclude that the incident was a deliberate attack on a humanitarian target”.[7][8]

Looking back on the British policy towards Syria since 2011 he accused the government of lies and political mistakes from the very beginning and of aggravating the situation. He argued that Prime Minister David Cameron should have either committed British forces or refrained from encouraging opposition forces from mounting a doomed campaign causing many civilian deaths.[8] The government had misunderstood and misrepresented the situation. First, they had expected an early end of al-Assad’s regime. After that they had overestimated the strength of the moderate opposition. Instead of taking action in order to help the opposition, they had only instigated the Syrian opposition to continue on their way to disaster. This outcome “was eminently foreseeable to anyone who was not intoxicated with wishful thinking”, he said.[8][9]

He described David Cameron’s policy of deposing al-Assad as opening a “Pandora’s box”. He warned of repeating the mistakes of Libya and Iraq. In his opinion, the fall of the al-Assad regime would lead to the massacre of Christians, Shi’ites, Alawites, Druze and other minorities.[10]

On the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, he commented to the BBC that “there [had] been no investigation…not a dodgy dossier – we’ve not seen any dossier whatever this time”.[11] Ford called to mind instances of false evidence during the Iraq war.[12][13]

Ford participated in the EuroCE conference on the future of Syria from 5 to 6 April 2017 which was criticised by dissidents as pro-Assad, because among the speakers there were Syrian politicians and apologists of the al-Assad government.[14] At the conference Ford described the British policy as “incoherent and grotesque”, he blamed the government for being in the front rank of those responsible for destroying Syria. “It’s very coy about the nature and extent of its support for armed groups. It declines to say how much it’s giving or what groups are receiving it, on the grounds that this will help Assad. The government takes us for fools because parliament has no opposition and the media for the most part is gullible.” He urged: Britain should stop making it worse by supporting armed groups and encouraging the illusion they could force al-Assad to go. “This is unkind to the Syrian opposition themselves. Any fool can see that this is not going to happen, especially after Aleppo.”[15]