The comparison with the terrible mistakes made by Western intelligence agencies during the Afghan war against the Soviets is startling. We supported al‑Qaeda, which later turned on us. Thanks to this policy, Pakistan now faces a permanent terrorist insurgency bordering on civil war. It is very likely that Turkey (and probably Jordan and Saudi Arabia) will face the same problem in due course as a result of the Syrian backlash. Meanwhile, jihadists have found a new terror base from which they can mount attacks on the West. All this was predictable at the start of the Syrian war – indeed, President Assad warned of it.
How can the West hope to contain the monster it helped to create? The countries we formed at the stroke of a pen in the Sykes-Picot treaty 98 years ago are being washed away. Only Egypt and Iran, states whose history stretches back for thousands of years rather than decades, are certain to survive intact.
With Egypt facing grave problems, Iran has emerged as the most stable and powerful country in the Middle East. Again and again since the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in 2001, the Iranians have offered cooperation against al-Qaeda and its allies. These entreaties have repeatedly been turned down. It is time for President Obama and David Cameron to acknowledge that we have been helping to sponsor terror for the past few decades. We have to choose new allies, and they must include Iran. If we carry on with our present deluded course, the threat to the West will only grow more dangerous.