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Open letter concerning Syria

Published on February 13, 2012 by: in: Politics



Dear Prime Minister,

A revolution has engulfed Syria. On one side are democratic activists being shielded by rebel forces; on the other, a dynastic totalitarian dictatorship that has killed upwards of 6,000 civilians, arbitrarily detained an estimated 37,000 more, and been credibly accused by the United Nations of crimes against humanity. The province of Homs has become a latter-day Sarajevo. The kind of house-to-house raids that Muammar Gaddafi threatened to conduct in Libya are routine practice in Syria, as is the firing of heavy artillery in residential areas.

According to human rights monitors, the regime of Bashar al-Assad and its mercenary affiliates have raped young boys infront of their fathers, beatthe wounded while they’re in hospital, crammed people into shipping containers for transport to detention facilities, and summarily executed soldiers who refused to fire on civilians. Despite assurances from the Arab League that its fact-finding missionto Syria would spell an end to violence, there is credible evidence that the Assad regime has infact redoubled its campaign of arbitrary arrests, torture and murder.

Recently, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and French Foreign MinisterAlain Juppe have advocated some form of intervention to protect the people of Syria.  Russia and China’s continued intransigence at the UN Security Council to pass even a watered down resolution condemning Assad’s violence, has left the West with no alternative but military intervention.

A detailed report published by Henry Jackson Society offers a workable blueprintfor intervention that would include the creation of a safe area in the northwest province of Idlib, centred in the city of Jisr al-Shughour, as well as a no-fly zone covering the western corridor of the country. The report suggests using Turkish ground troops to establish the safe area, and Western or NATO air forces to impose the no-fly zone.

Britain could provide a crucial role, as it did in Libya, in keeping the Syrian skies clear long enough to allow civilians a refuge from the regime’s onslaught as well as create a viable base of operations for the political and militarywings of the Syrian opposition.

We therefore encourage you to take the following actions immediately:

  • Work with the United States, France, the Arab League,Turkey and NATO to assess themilitary requirements neededfor imposing a safe area in Idlib province and a no-fly zone over the western corridor of Syria.
  • Press for a clear United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the Assad regime for its continued violence against civilians and authorising the use of force to establish a safe area and no-fly zone in Syria. Also examine viability of the UN General Assembly “Uniting for Peace” resolution (377a) as an alternative legal meansfor authorising a multilateral intervention.
  • Establish a contact group to formally liaisewith the Syrian National Council, other Syrian opposition groups, the Free Syrian Army and the network of independent rebel brigades which have been responsible for most of the defensive and offensive operations being conducted in the country. These brigades havetaken the fight directly to Damascus, but they are in dire need of supplies and weapons. Britain ought to provide those.

We applaud your government’s efforts, in conjunction with those of the United States and European Union, to both call for the resignation of Assad and to sanction his inner circle for grave human rights abuses.

It is in Britain’s moral and strategic interest to make this happen.


Alan Mendoza, Executive Director, The Henry Jackson Society
Douglas Murray, Associate Director, The Henry Jackson Society
Michael Weiss, Communications Director, The Henry Jackson Society

Ammar Abdulhamid, Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Rafael L. Bardaji, Foreign and Security Policy Advisor to former President of the Government of Spain
Juan F. Carmona, Doctorate in Law, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Devon Cross, Member, Secure America Now
Thomas Cushman, Professor of Sociology, Wellesley College
Dustin Dehez, Senior Analyst in the Peace and Security Section, Global Governance Institute
Eric Edelman, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
João Carlos Espada, Professor of Political Studies and Director of the Institute for Political Studies of the Portuguese Catholic University
Jamie Fly, Executive Director, Foreign Policy Initiative
Roland Freudenstein, Head of Research and Deputy Director of the Centre of European Studies
Anna Ganeva, Executive Director, Centre for Liberal Strategies
Charles Grant, Director, Centre for European Reform,
Lawrence J. Haas, Senior Fellow, American Foreign Policy Council
Simone Dinah Hartmann, Founder, Stop the Bomb coalition
Bruce Pitcairn Jackson, President of the Project on Transitional Democracies
Leszek Jazdzewski, Editor-in-chief, LIBERTÉ!
Natalia Kancheli, Advisor to the President of Georgia
James Kirchick, Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Irina Krasovskaya, President, We Remember
William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard
Andrea Loquenzi-Holzer, Manager, Italian Chamber of Deputies
Timothy Lynch, Lecturer in American Politics and Foreign Policy
Marek Matraszek, Founding Partner of CEC Government Relations
Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, Executive Director, Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, Head of Mission,Wadi
Emanuele Ottolenghi, Historian and Author
David Pollock, President, European Humanist Federation
Andrew Roberts, Historian and Author
Gary Schmitt, Resident Scholar and Director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Program on Advanced Strategic Studies
Fredrik Segerfeldt, Programme Director, Timbro
Amer Taheri, Historian and Author
Alexandre del Valle, Co-Founder, Geopolitics of the Mediterranean
Nuno Wahnon Martins, B’nai B’rith Europe
Robert Zarate, Foreign Policy Initiative

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About The Henry Jackson Society

The Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics is a cross-partisan, British-based think-tank, focused on a strong British and European commitment towards freedom, liberty, constitutional democracy, human rights, governmental and institutional reform and a robust foreign, security and defence policy and transatlantic alliance.

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