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Miliband warns on Syria 'mayhem'

The failure of military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the international community paralysed in the face of bloodshed in Syria, according to former foreign secretary David Miliband.

He said the "overall reckoning" in Iraq is "strongly negative", and admitted there would have been "no justification for war" in 2003 if the government had known there were no weapons of mass destruction.

In a blunt assessment, he also suggested Afghanistan could suffer many more years of civil conflict after western troops leave.

But, delivering the Ditchley Lecture, he insisted that those experiences must not be allowed to hamper engagement with other crises.

"While we have learned in the last decade that western military intervention can trigger chaos, so we have seen in Syria that its absence can mean mayhem - and it is going to get worse before it gets better," Mr Miliband said.

Mr Miliband criticised the West's "over-reliance on military power and under-investment in politics and diplomacy".

"In Iraq, the war was won easily but the peace has often looked like war. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the threat from al Qaida is much reduced, but the prospects for the country - including a new kind of civil war - after the exit of western troops hang in the balance," he said.

"We need to recognise that these failings in Iraq and Afghanistan - to secure the peace, create meaningful political dialogue and power sharing, and engage the regional players - have contributed to the international paralysis over how to protect the Syrian people and fostered diplomatic stalemate when the opposite is needed."

Meanwhile, in an interview with the BBC, Mr Miliband insisted the crisis in Egypt was caused by ousted president Mohammed Morsi putting himself above the constitution.

However, in an interview with Andrew Marr, he warned that democracy must be restored as quickly as possible after the military coup, and Mr Morsi allowed to participate in elections.


From Belfast Telegraph