An article by a certain Carol Morel the ‘Independent‘ is a good piece of factual reporting and there is certainly no reason to doubt that the Syrian air force has bombed the Palestinian refugee camp at Yarmouk. Moreover, the contention that many of the Palestinians who have defected from the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine are fighting not the with FSA, but with extreme Islamist units, means that this has some of the elements of a good piece of journalism.
Furthermore, even if our good impressions are somewhat curtailed when we read that Yarmouk, which has none of the characteristics of a typical refugee camp but has more or less the infrastructure of a typical town, “was established in 1957 as a squatters camp for Palestinians displaced by fighting over the establishment of Israel in 1948” , the gist of the article is still sound and it would seem to be substantiated elsewhere. For instance, Patrick Cockburn, writing for the same paper says that the American government has condemned “the al-Nusra Front, the most effective fighting force of the rebels, as being terrorists and an al-Qa’ida affiliate.” This is most certainly not a scenario where John Wayne and the 7th Cavalry are going to rescue all and sundry or, as Mr Cockburn says, “it is no fight between goodies and baddies”
Indeed, although 130 countries, including the United States, have recognised the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and the so-called Free Syrian Army as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, it would appear that the majority of those opposed to the regime in Damascus do not quite see it like that. Support for the Jabhat al-Nusra is widespread despite it being considered a terrorist organisation by Washington. Moreover, with Qatari and Saudi support it might appear that the West’s worse fears might become a reality.
However, this is not a war that is going to be won by anyone today or tomorrow. Indeed, it is in all probability not a war that can be won at all and with both the non-Sunni Muslim minorities and those Sunnis associated with the regime in Damascus knowing that they can have no future in some Wahabi dictatorship, it may be that Washington’s worst case scenario can still be avoided, even it is difficult to envisage our motley collection of jihadists handing in their weapons at some future date and just disappearing.
Still, if the if the array of contradictions in this part of the world still confuse, there is at least some news today that is extremely clear in its message and that is the news that “Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home. They say his job, and the body he represents, are “useless, useless, useless”. Of course, we might add, worse, much worse, than useless.