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03/04/2013
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Why you shouldn’t question what you know is true

I’ve been British Ambassador in Syria since 2008. But I first visited the country more that 30 years ago. Syria, I know well and like very much. That makes what has happened since March last year all the more horrifying and sad for me personally.

The UN says over 5,400 people have died in the last ten months, some of them under torture in prison.  Other groups – particularly those opposed to President Assad and his regime – claim the figure is much higher.  The Syrian regime tells us that these claims are exaggerated and that the world should look instead at the deaths of soldiers and regime forces.

Who’s right? People say that it’s no longer possible to hide the truth. Anyone can post a video on YouTube or a link on Twitter for the world to see. But sometimes this abundance of information can lead to confusion over detail, instead of informed debate and rational arguments over the facts.

Sometimes we focus too much on the abstract and not enough on what we see with our own eyes.

Over the long period of time that I have known Syria, I have seen the regime of Hafez Assad and his son Bashar in action.  The Assad dynasty was never a pleasant one to its people. I have seen the wounds of people released from prison. I have spoken to the families whose relatives have simply disappeared. I have heard from those who got a knock at 2am from the Mukhabarat (intelligence services) and were taken away for a still unknown affront to the Syrian authorities.

But even having witnessed Syria’s dark side, the violence and brutality I have witnessed over the last ten months shocks me.

From the very start of this unrest, the regime’s tactics were laid bare. On 15 March 2011 we watched as 40 Syrians lined up outside the Ministry of Interior on Merjeh Square in central Damascus to protest silently the arbitrary detention of their friends and family. They made no provocative chants and advocated no violence. They simply held up pictures of their friends and family members that had been held in detention for months or years without trial. It was a scene of dignified and peaceful protest.

After 10 minutes, the regime had had enough. Plain clothed security forces moved in en masse. We stood and watched as they beat innocent civilians with sticks and batons. No care was taken for the elderly, for women, for the young children.  All were treated with equal brutality.

This scene has been repeated time and again. In the main Umayad Mosque in central Damascus, I witnessed a small group of Syrians chant for their freedom – only to be beaten by regime thugs.

I have seen myself what this regime can do – and is doing relentlessly, and on a daily basis.

I tell the Syrian opposition at every opportunity to avoid the path of an armed resistance. But the sad truth is that violence begets violence. That is why it is important that all sides refrain from violence and that the regime allows a political transition instead of repeating its hollow promises of reform.

Without context, it can be hard to make sense of YouTube images shot on a mobile phone. It can be hard to understand why a man with a family in a town in Syria would decide to take up arms against his government. It can be hard to believe that over 5,000 people have been killed in ten months, or that torture is a regular occurrence in prisons, children brutalised and tanks and mortars used by the army against its own citizens. If I hadn’t seen for myself what the Syrian regime has done I would be asking these questions too.

But I have. And it is too shocking to ignore. That is why I am so appalled by the vetoing of the draft resolution, tabled by Morocco, which supported the Arab League efforts to resolve the crisis. The resolution did not impose any sanctions. It did not authorise military action. And at every stage we worked to accommodate the concerns of others. There was nothing in the draft to warrant opposition. Those opposed to it will have to account to the Syrian people for their actions and the horror of the unfolding tragedy.

It is time for the world to speak with one voice to condemn the violations of the Assad regime and support the Arab League’s efforts to bring a peaceful, Syrian-led solution to the terrible crisis that is unfolding before us.

59 Responses

  1. [...] “The violence and brutality I have witnessed over the last ten months shocks me,” writes Britain’s ambassador to Syria Simon [...]

  2. justin says:

    thank you for writing this. very interesting and moving.

  3. [...] “The violence and brutality I have witnessed over the last ten months shocks me,” writes Britain’s ambassador to Syria Simon [...]

  4. MARYAM ANABELLE SANTIAGO JAMIL says:

    IT HAS BEEN NEARLY A YEAR SINCE SYRIA’S UPRISING, NEARLY THE POPULATION OF SYRIA WILL BE WIPED OUT, IN THE SUMERIAN TIME, THE RULES WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN IN TIMES OF TRIBAL WARS AND WARS IN NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES, CAN UNITED NATION RULES BE BROKEN FOR THE SAKE OF SAVING THE POPULATION OF SYRIA…??? DO YOU HAVE TO ASK PERMISSION FROM RUSSIA AND CHINA TO PERFORM SADAQA BY SAVING THE POPULATION OF SYRIA WHO WISH FOR FREEDOM TO SURVIVE TO BE HAPPY, TO SLEEP , TO EAT, TO LOVE, FOR CHILDREN TO GROW IN A PEACEFUL, HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT…??? IT IS TIME TO GET UP UNITED NATIONS GOD WILL BE WITH YOU TO SAVE THE SYRIAN PEOPLE, STOP WASTING TIME, FOLLOW ALL YOUR SIX SENSE… PLEASE GET UP AND SHOW THE WORLD THAT YOU CAN SAVE SYRIA FROM DESTRUCTION…INSHAALLAH

  5. Jane says:

    “That is why it is important that all sides refrain from violence”
    Violence is coming from one side only and we all know which one it is.

    Asking the oppisition to “avoid the path of an armed resistance” is asking them to sit back and watch as their women get raped, their children brutally killed, their elderly tortured to death, and their houses destroyed over their heads. They have been asking the world for help for months but not a single nation has truly responded. They have been protecting their families and neighbourhoods with their bear chests since the beginning only to end up as pieces of body parts scattered in the streets of Syria. They have demonstrated bravery beyond description but as you have witnessed, it is impossible to protect themselves or their families. They are helpless against the regime’s brutality.

    Had the world been been actively and promptly making genuine efforts for a peaceful transition, it would not have come to this. To this day, there is a Syrian ambassador in the UK, the US and France!

    Keeping in mind that the opposition is facing Assad’s regime, Iran’s forces, Russia’s weapons and the UN’s failed “efforts”, please be more specific as to exactly how they should proceed…

    We have all watched Assad’s reponse the nicely put requests of stepping down and stopping the violence.. more autrocities!

    I personally hope that a transition takes place immediately and with no further loss of life. If the UK or any other nation can make that happen, I am confident that the opposition will not see a need to be armed.
    Until then, please understand that every person around the world would desperately feel the need to protect their loved ones if they were in that same situation.

  6. Jane says:

    To be clear, my comment is intented to hopefully encourage the nations that are friends of Syria to act faster so that the situation in Syria does not turn into a civil war. Rather than critisize the opposition’s potential methods, offer a better solution.

  7. Syria Uncovered says:

    Britain can do more & must do to save Syrian lives: Massacres & Crimes Committed by Assad militias in Homs, Zabadani and Tseel.

    I must say that I was immensely touched by the overwhelming support of our government to the people of Syria in their struggle for freedom and dignity.

    As I am sure you are aware heavy shelling has been carried out in Homs, Syria by Assad forces for 5 days now. This has now extended to other cities all over the country. On last Saturday morning, the people of Homs woke up to heavy shelling and bombardment of their streets and homes and within a few hours over 340 people were killed , including children and civilians and over 1700 injured.

    Since then, the brutal killing has continued. Daily, over 100 people are being massacred by Assad forces. As I write this letter, heavy shelling is taking place using new Russian weapons which are melting the structures of the buildings, bringing them down over the heads of the innocent civilians inside them. Body parts of civilians are being found in the streets. Peaceful civilians are being slaughtered by Assad forces, including many women and children.

    The hospitals are being bombed and just yesterday 18 premature babies died when the power to their hospital was cut off by Assad. All casualties are being taken to field hospitals where there are minimal and inadequate medical supplies to avoid kidnapping by security forces and shelling. Young injured children are having limbs amputated with no anesthetic.

    There are currently 15,000 Iranian security forces in Syria supporting Assad’s army in killing the people. Russian foreign minister with the head of intelligence security services visited Syria this week and met with Assad to allow more killings. Russia has given Assad the green light to kill more people and Russian ships are still arriving with more weapons.

    We have had statement after statement and report after report from well renowned organizations such are Human Right Watch, UN Human Rights and Amnesty International documenting these massacres and atrocities.

    The UK government has already engaged in helping for a democratic transition in Syria but much more is needed to save the lives of many civilians by:

    • Sending urgent medical and food supplies to besieged cities under International or NATO protection
    • Call for establishment of safe havens or corridors where supplies and people can move safely
    • Enable the people of Syria to defend themselves by all possible means

    We also demand the expulsion of the Syrian envoy to Britain together with all the Diplomatic Mission.

    Please do all you can to help save these innocent people. It a moral obligation and a just cause for Britain to defend.

    Syrians will remember those nations that stood by their side.

    Syria Uncovered

  8. Radwan says:

    These are facts known to all those who knew Syria and the brutal regime that has been ruling it by corruption, killing, torture and fear for decades. And Syrians living outside Syria are so terrorized and live in fear of the regime both for themselves in case they have to return to the country one day or for their families over there.

  9. Jonathan Karmi says:

    Thank you Simon for your honest assessment of the situation. This situation in Syria is throwing up some major, and rather awkward questions.

    How long can civilised, democratic countries stand by and watch another country’s civilians being slaughtered by their own government ? And especially when the means are available to do something about it, just political resolve is missing.

    How much use is the United Nations when two brutal authoritarian nations use vetoes to protect even more thuggish regimes ? Not much, I suggest.

  10. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said "time and again" he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by "regime thugs". [...]

  11. Gordon says:

    Simon you stand by as Srebrenica repeats itself, you say don’t use violence to the opposition, just after we have spent 8 months destroying Gadaffi’s armies from the air and sea! You Simon Collins will found lacking by the future historians of Britain. Iran wages proxy wars in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and now Syria and you talk ‘peace’ ! Hopefully our allies in the US and the gulf can show a bit of guts and take the fight to the Iranian and Syrian bullies. Unlike your peaceful advice!!! Wake up , it’s only a matter of time before the Sunni majority get their freedom!! Take Syria away from Iran and demand NATO and Turkey do SOMETHING…

    Yours Respectfully
    Gordon

  12. Dear Simon,

    I do not doubt your sincere sympathy with my fellow Syrians who suffered from regime brutality over the years. I do not contest the fact that many died, were tortured, or thrown in jail. But where do we go from here?

    You accurately reported part of the truth. The part that justifies your country’s desired outcome.

    Many Syrians are strongly opposed to revolutionary speed of change. Many are opposed to the direction the revolutionaries and their supporters in the west and the GCC want Syria to follow.

    Your country, since April or May, started to encourage the opposition to not negotiate with the regime but to be more and more confident that the regime will be overthrown sooner than later.

    This would have been reasonable if you had accurate assessment of probability of success and its approximate timing. You did not.

    Don’t you feel that you have some limited responsibility for the price paid but the regime’s opponents among the Syrian people for their over confidence (thanks to reassurances by the west, by Turkey, by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and their Aljazeera and Al-Arabya)? … Just like a fund manager who pushes his clients to invest in a losing investment.

    Yes, I am implying that your influence on them does translate to more risk taking on their part. I have friends who are active opposition figures and I can tell you that they really get influenced by signals from your side.

    All of you are focusing on promoting news of regime brutality and are consistently not allowing a real debate about the cost of revolution-style change in Syria.

    That cost is tremendous. Is it ethical to keep wishing that the Syrian army will be defeated with ease or that it will be abandoning the President or that Russia is about to abandon the President next week or that Turkey will settle it militarily or that Qatar will do some magical trick or that this coming Friday hundreds of thousands of people in Aleppo will finally demonstrate against the regime or that the Free Syria Army will take over Damascus …

    All these false signals are causing regime opponents to risk their lives … unnecessarily.

    The regime will not fall … the regime (that includes hundreds of thousands in the army and somewhere between 40 to 60% of Syrians) should not be defeated.

    Please consider encouraging those in opposition who value your advice to talk to Syrians they disagree with and to participate from inside the new system to make it a success. Lower those maximal demands of regime change. Don’t push more people to kill each other.

    Best regards,

    Camille Alexandre

  13. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  14. David Kiros says:

    Thank you for bearing witness and speaking out. What the Assad Regime is doing to innocent civilians is disturbing to say the least. The fact that Russia and China rejected a resolution that supported the Arab League peace plan (a plan signed onto by the Assad Regime) is mind blowing and revolting.
    I would also suggest that Mrs. Assad’s family be expelled from Britain and her British citizenship revoked.
    Both She, her Husband and their families should be brought before the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.
    At what point do the words “never again” actually mean something? Not after the Holocaust, Pol Pot, Bosnia, Ruwanda, Darfur etc?? Then when? When will “never again” actually mean Never Again?

  15. Mark Czekalski says:

    It is mind-blowingly sick to read all this. How one group of people in power can cause so much pain and suffering on another and then flatly deny or, as Assad has said – mistakes have been made – but take absolutely no responsibility for all these brutal acts.
    Russia and China’s stance is incredibly sad but hardly surprising. Both these countries have a pitiful record on human rights, including in recent years.They do not care if their own citizens perish, fighting justice and for greater/real democracy in their countries, so they are hardly going to support the likes of ordinary Libyans and Syrians in lands afar.
    I hope more army deserters emerge and as Paul Wood suggested, they get their hands on anti-tank weaponry. Then the people themselves will win through, even if more blood is shed. I hope they then catch Assad, his family and all his close supporters and exact the same treatment on them that they have had meated out on themselves, not just this last year but for decades.

  16. [...] “The violence and brutality I have witnessed over the last ten months shocks me,” writes Britain’s ambassador to Syria Simon [...]

  17. [...] Simon Collis Share this:FacebookTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  18. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  19. Nabih Htiwesh says:

    I do not find it hard at all to believe what is going on, I come from Libya and lived those moment and memories from when the war started in Libya will be flashing in front of my eyes as long as I live. When I saw the Russian foreign minister shaking hands with Assad I was absolutely disgusted. I understand why and how could Bashar do this to his own people because I had gaddafi’s men shooting at us when we peacefully protested outside our house and to this day, bullet holes still stand out in our white balcony walls and till this day a bullet is resting inside our lounge sofa that missed my nephew by 2 inches when he was watching tv, and I will never forget the bullet that missed the write side of my head and nearly killed me. All this is nothing compared to the harsh days we suffered when 11 of Gaddafi’s men knocked on our door 1:30am looking for my brother who was one of almost 50,000 people were arrested during the war, and was held in Abusleem prison for 2 bitter months. It tears me apart when I see people dying everyday in Syria, no one knows how its like to be in your home and in fear of rocket falling in your lounge unless you’ve been there, I remember sitting at home watching live on tv the tornadoes launching to target Gaddafi’s Air Defence and seconds later I hear it landing somewhere near us in Tripoli, I know nothing much about the Syrian people and.life there but what I do know is that they are really peaceful people and they need help. They are incapable of defeating this regime without the UN help, Bashar is ruthless murderer and he will carry on killing his people he does not care about the world he is as bad as Gaddafi, I as Libyan 100% support the UN attempts to stop this rege from this everyday slaughtering and all the credit to the UN for the help to get rid of Gaddafi and all dictators should be targeted it is not fair to use military against your own people. God help Syria

  20. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  21. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  22. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  23. Harry Dison (Christened Henry) says:

    My following views express my deep condemnation of all totalitarian states including the Assad Regime.

    The ongoing agony in Syria is more than sufficient reason for considering and debating my views.

    The World needs a purpose and plan to rid itself of totalitarian regimes so that all world citizens can live in freedom. I suggest a course of action in my following article.

    A WORLD OF FREEDOM

    We need a world in which no one has to live in fear of being arbitrarily arrested by the state police of a tyrannical government.

    The men in control of totalitarian regimes, such as dictators like Gaddafi, or the controlling cliques of one party states, such as China, are generally nothing but gangsters. In fact they are the world’s top gangsters having acquired unlimited power, privilege, wealth and total control of millions of ordinary people. Being determined to keep their gains and powerful position they create repressive state laws and brutal state police to enforce them. They epitomize evil. If there was only one totalitarian state in the world it would be one too many.

    We need a world in which everyone has the right to live in freedom and it is quite feasible that this could be attained.

    The way not to attain this is through the UN which is flawed, unwieldly and often ineffective. Many of its members are tyrannical regimes each possessing a vote. China and Russia also possess the Veto, often rendering the UN useless.

    It should be the right of every person on planet Earth to live in freedom with the right to express thoughts and opinions without fear of persecution, and the right to vote on an ongoing basis for representative government. This can only be achieved within a democracy and it should be the aim of all good people to bring about a world where all governments are democratic.

    I think that the democracies should form a new world body with the purpose of establishing democratic governments throughout the world and the exclusion of totalitarian regimes forever.

    Such a new democratically based world body or association could run on par with the UN and eventually replace it. It could pass resolutions, or not, as in the UN, and being based on democratically elected governments would have more validity for legality than a UN corrupted with totalitarian regimes.

    It should not be too difficult to attain a world in which everyone lives in freedom within a democracy in a reasonable period of time, as it is what most ordinary people desire. Oppressed people, the world over, yearn for democracy, and given half a chance will destroy or otherwise remove their self appointed rulers.

    The new world democratic body should provide all means of assistance, including armed force as necessary, to help people everywhere attain and maintain freedom. Naturally there could be no question of conflict with China for instance, and democracy here can only be encouraged to evolve in other ways, such as by world opinion, persuasion, economic pressures etc.

    Probably the most important first step would be a declaration of basic rights of freedom under democracy for every world citizen.

    Corollary

    If such a World as I suggest had been established in the nineteen thirties, then the Nazi Party would have been removed or eliminated in its early days and WW2 and the Holocaust would not have occurred.

  24. Sasha Pagella says:

    Simon, I felt your account was very moving and while I’m appalled at the level of violence I’m also appalled that we seem to be categorically ruling out military intervention. Even intervention to create designated safe havens.

    I believe the time for diplomacy is long gone. I’m aware that the situation is extremely complex, but are we prepared to stand by and continue talking while innocent children and civilians are killed and tortured day and night. Is there a body count where we finally say enough is enough or in theory are we prepared to allow him to slaughter all those who might oppose him. If we chose the latter then we are not much better than the perpetrators.

  25. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  26. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said "time and again" he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by "regime thugs". [...]

  27. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  28. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  29. [...] aussi ce que dit dans une note postée aujourd’hui sur son blog l’ambassadeur britannique en Syrie, Simon Collis. Récemment rapatrié par son gouvernement, [...]

  30. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  31. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  32. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  33. Thomas Couzens says:

    Good article, however I don’t quite understand how it is linked to it’s title. This doesn’t talk about “Why you shouldn’t question what you know is true”.

  34. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  35. [...] And in a blog post the British envoy to Syria Simon Collis – who has been removed to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  36. Abdul Razak Al-Abed says:

    Thank you for your arm thoughts and sincere feelings ….

    Presumably, its about time to find a genuine and true solution since the whole play is obvious for the whole world. People expect the support in no time since numbers are dying on daily basis and no shelter to go to for the livin ones.The status is still on hold, where proactive and preventive measures are mostly required, now.

  37. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said “time and again” he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by “regime thugs”. [...]

  38. [...] And in a blog post the British ambassador to Syria Simon Collis – who has been recalled to London for consultations – said "time and again" he had witnessed peacefully protesting Syrian civilians being beaten by "regime thugs". [...]

  39. Steve says:

    I just would like to salute you Sir!!!!

  40. Sawsan Habbal says:

    Excellency,
    I am ware of the hospitality and the kindness, members of the diplomatic corps receive from Syrians. Unfortunately, such treatment is usually received to serve the diplomat’s “hidden” agenda – getting information “. Having said that, I agree with you that the conflict in Syria should be resolved peacefully. The international community should support mediation and negotiation, so that a resolution to the situation in Syria – where the transfer of power evolves through nominations from different political parties, and election under UN and Arab league observation. In my humble opinion, condemnation, dictating who should step down, and making statements that only enforce hostility, will not bring a peaceful resolution in any conflict – let alone a complicated situation like Syria. The international community should be united to support the country “Syria” in finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict, by working on an immediate “cease fire”, and bringing all parties to the conflict, to a negotiation table. However, if the international community has an agenda – i.e. Iran, protecting the interest of Israel, fear of the so called “Shia’a crescent”, then it is the international community who should be blamed for the blood of the Syrian people. I also would like to seek your insight regarding the Muslim Brothers and Salafists coming to power – as we have seen in recent events. what is the international community going to do about such fanatics holding power in the Middle East including Syria? You know and I know the biggest threat to peace in this world is “fanatism”.
    I hope you will soon return to serve your country in Syria, where you can enjoy old Damascus, the history, the good food, and the hospitality of Syrian people again!

  41. Ingo-Steven Wais says:

    Dear Mr.Simon Collins, I had to read your interesting but sad twice.Just because I couldn’t believe the well described fact.
    Meanwhile I do.One of your “K-Sentences” is to me”..Violence begets violence..” I do full agree to your statement. Even if it ís hard to believe that 5000 innocent people were killed by the Assad-Regime in such a short time-you must face the truth.Syria is meanwhile on a highway to a civil war.But the people deserve that the World Community will stop this madness as soon as possible. To me another UN-Resolution could work.For China and Russia, both of them were opposed
    to the 1st one,, is this their big chance to say to the Syrian-
    People: “Sorry-we were wrong!”
    BW, Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart

  42. Rania Mujarkech says:

    If only we can get this through out to the world. No one wants to see Syria like this. I was heartbroken to see my country comes to this. We are pro peace and pro life. We just need our dignity Back. It’s it too much to ask !!! So glad you have the ability to voice yours and our opinion. Well said Mr. Ambassador

    Rania

  43. unclesam says:

    Yes to a militar intervention

  44. Peter Rush says:

    Thank you for the dreadful confirmation of what we are witnessing. My memories of visits to Syria in the 90s are replete with images of a cultured, intelligent society in thrall to a heartless and egotistical regime. Bashar is somehow worse than his father, masking his lack of mercy in an inhuman facade of being wronged by the world.

    I fear it is already too late to bring the opposition to the discussion table, as the Ba’athists have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to honour any compromises.

  45. wes says:

    I curse the chinese and the russians. Have the russians forget about the lend lease program from the U.S, that saved them from hitlers death camps?? Are Syrian military contracts, worth more than the rivers of blood flowing in the Syrian streets daily??? And the bloody fucking U.N, your not any better than the worthless leauge of nations. While Nobama and his white whore hillary, are more concerned with protecting illegal settlements in Israel.

    China and Russia want to see a river of blood – this is their bloodfest extravaganza. Assad is the clown who dances for their enjoyment while the rest of the world wrings their hands at the senseless killings of innocent men, women and children. We need to learn more about all 3 of these countries, their enmity towards humanity, and their bloodlust.
    And Obama, you telepromting Nobel peace price puppet, your country invaded Iraq for supposed WMD, but wont lift a finger when children are tortured and mutilated in the worlds oldest cities, shame on you!

  46. Iain Kelly says:

    The veto of Security Council resolution on Syria for the sake of naked self interest, the murders of Litvinenko and numerous independent-minded Russian journalists (like Anna Politkovskaya), corruption and criminality at the highest level – this is the true face of the New Russia.

  47. Mark says:

    Just as politicians are talking about winding up military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, lo and behold, Syria suddenly descends into unrest that, we are told — somewhat predictably — can only be solved through regime change. Why should we trust you now? The UK government lied time and again. You have no credibility.

  48. Moundasseh Sourieh says:

    Thank you Mr. Collis for this interesting -in depth- article about the Syrian Revolution. I have a pressing question. I wonder whether you have the answer. Why you helped the Assad Dynasty when you were the British Ambassador to Syria? why did your embassy granted long term visas to them? Why you did not save any effort to help this dynasty including the Mukhabarat? let alone the first Lady and the Makhlouf family. Everyone in Syria knows that you were the closest friend to the so called “the Royal Family” although you were aware of what Hafez Assad and his son Bashar are repressing the Syrian people, as you just mentioned.

  49. Ed Abington says:

    A powerful statement. But I believe the way the UNSC resolution on Libya unfolded had a lot to do with the Russian veto, even of the resolution didn’t call for Bashar to step aside. And, as an American, I find the US Government’s outrage about the veto to be highly cynical, given the US veto (one of many over the years) of a resolution reaffirming as illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, efforts to prevent the Palestinians from gaining UN membership, not to mention countless vetoes which gave Israel cover over twenty years of its occupation of south Lebanon. And the US worked closely with the Syrians from 1976 on regarding their occupation of Lebanon. The West’s hands are not exactly clean when it comes to the Middle East.

  50. Jean Scoular says:

    Yes Mr Collis makes for very disturbing reading. How would you like to be in our position…my family are ‘trapped’ in Syria and we are beside ourselves with worry for their safety. My son and his 2 children are all British Nationals and all hold British Passports but his wife and their mother is a Syrian National and you know what no one and i do mean no one cares a damn about them. What about peoples Human Rights and Humanitarian reasons this country is always going on about? I’m afraid it is sadly lacking in this case. I have tried many avenues to get help for them but as I said no one cares or is even in the slightest bit interested. Yes my son can come to this country and bring his kids with him but no way will he leave his wife of almost 9yrs behind, what kind of man would he be if he did this.
    We have been left very bitterly disappointed in this government. I am just an ordinary mother trying so hard to get help for her family with no way to turn.

  51. Elizabeth Block says:

    Dear Mr Collis,

    I had the pleasure of meeting you when you spoke at the MEA in late 2010. I had visited Syria in May of that year and loved the people I met. I was there to visit one Iraqi refugee but I met so many other people.

    So I have been appalled by what has happened and I am glad that you have spoken out. I know that your words have been widely reported so I can only hope that they will move the “international community” to find some way to stop the violence.

    In sorrow for all the Syrians lost since last March,

    Liz

    Elizabeth Block

    • Gantulga says:

      We’ve been in conflict, Syria and Turkey, Iraq and Turkey, and other nrectoius. What did we get? Nothing . These are powerful words by Bashar al Asad. It is good to see that middle eastern nrectoius have fully realized the DIVIDE AND RULE policy of west. It is better late than never. Middle eastern nrectoius should unite and face the US and Israel’s oppressive policies. Most importantly US should be thrown out of middle east as it is the most dangerous DARK FORCE. If US leaves the region middle east will become a peaceful place.

  52. Fadi says:

    Thank you for writing it in the first place, but isn’t it a little late?
    But thanks again.

  53. Dear Mr Collis,

    Appreciate your opinions supporting the revolution of freedom in Syria.

    As we also ask that your government to direct a request from NATO to intervene in Syria to protect innocent civilians.

    As we ask your government to intervene also to face the elements of Iran and Hezbollah, which also involved the killing of innocent civilians in Syria.

    What is happening now in Syria, is crimes against humanity, war crimes committed by Assad’s militias and gangs.

    From a syrian:
    Khaled Al NAimi

  54. Jean Scoular says:

    It is indeed a very sad situation the Syrian people find themselves in. How a leader can authorise his military to fire into residential areas I will never know especially when he has children of his own. My son is presently in Syria! He will not leave with his kids and leave his wife behind….she is Syrian and they have been married almost 9yrs but this British Government will not give her a visa to enter the UK!! So much for the British Embassy being there to help!

  55. [...] Collis, the British Ambassador to Syria, wrote about this media attention as well. However, he went to on to say that “Sometimes we focus too much on the abstract and not [...]

  56. Frank Spence says:

    We hear much more about the atrocities of Britain’s designated enemies than its friends. Britain sells weapons and provides military support to governments that do much worse things to their people. I smell hypocrisy!

  57. Peter B. says:

    Thank you so much for a level headed assessment of the deplorable situation which now exists in Syria.

    What I really want to know is, in the face of this appalling political-humanitarian crisis, where is the firm and coherent world leadership applying all available diplomatic pressure on interested parties in Syria to drop arms and talk?

    With the UN virtually impotent, and very few world leaders willing to rock the boat too much independently, this appears not to be not just a failing of Syria, but even more so of the rest of the world.

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