The Syrian situation is so confusing, but so horrible that I decided to try to understand it, using only mainstream British media sources.  This is what I have gleaned.

There are various forces in Syria.  Some of them are Bad.  Some of them are Good.  The Bad ones include the Assad government, which had shown its murderousness even before the Arab Spring.  Many Syrians recount stories of oppression and torture dating back years.  The Islamic State people are also Bad.  Despite the name, many of them are ex-Saddam forces with little sympathy for or understanding of religion.  Others are foreigners including British people, some of whom have only recently read “Islam for Dummies”.  The British ones were told that house prices were cheaper in IS territory than in Portsmouth, and that they might even be given a house if the former occupant had been driven out or worset.  Like Assad, IS forces are cruel and murderous, and unlike Assad they do it as openly as possible.  It would be better to call IS “Daesh” because it is insulting in Arabic and they don’t like it.  But “Daesh” is hard to say, and it is easier to call them what they would like us to call them, to share online the videos they want us to share, and generally to behave the way they want us to behave.

The Good people include the Kurds, who are Brave and True, a bit like the Gurkhas.  We can trust them, and if they defeat IS they might sell us their oil cheaply and then almost become European.   Some of the Kurd groups have had success in stopping the advance of IS, despite obstruction from our NATO allies in Turkey.  The anti-Assad democratic forces are also Good, though they are weak, divided and in disarray.

Then there are the moderate Jihadis.  They are like the extreme Jihadis of IS, but their extremism is less extreme.  They have links with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, but both of these groups are less extreme than IS.  The less extreme Jihadis are fighting against Assad, IS and the pro-democracy groups.  We are giving them weapons to use against the first two, but they mustn’t use them against the latter.  They haven’t promised, but they have been told not to.

As for allies, Assad has Iran and Russia.  We have told Iran not to get involved because Iran is Bad, and unlike Europe and America, Iran shouldn’t have any say on what happens in the region..  Russia is involved, but we are a bit scared of Russia so we don’t say that much.  Russia says it is only attacking IS, but no doubt they are lying and saved at least a few bombs for the moderate Jihadis.  We are a bit peaved about this, because we needed agreement to bomb IS, but Labour was too cowardly to attack them directly, despite the great success we had in bombing Bad people in Iraq and Libya.  This means that now Russia and not the West will get the credit for attacking IS.  They particularly want to push IS out of Palmyra.  The worst atrocity of the whole war has been that IS blew up ancient buildings in Palmyra.

The West is allying itself with the Iraqi government.  It is extremely corrupt but we have to support it because one of our gifts to Iraq was Democracy.  It has a lot of oil, but this is irrelevant.  The west also supports the Kurds, again not because they have some oil but because they are Brave and True.  The West is also supporting other pro-democracy forces, and the moderate Jihadis who are opposing them.  Hopefully the moderate Jihadis will forget that they are opposing the pro-democracy forces.

IS doesn’t have many allies, apart from a few nutcases in Birmingham.  But it does get a lot of serious money from oil Sheikhs in the Gulf who are our close friends in the region.  It also gets inspiration for how to treat people it doesn’t like from our even closer friends in Saudi Arabia, who have a lot of oil.  IS has had some of its wounded fighters treated by Israeli military hospitals.  This is good because it shows that Israel, despite having made no contribution to the instability in the Middle East, is prepared to use its resources to help some people when they are hurt.  Israel is a Democracy and is Good.

The best way forward at the moment would be for the West to increase bombing against IS and to give more arms to groups opposing Assad so they can also do more bombing.  This way there will be peace, and all the refugees will want to go straight home, which will mean we won’t have to do anything else for them.  This is good because we don’t really want to do anything for them anyway.  After that, everyone will be happy.