The Syrian conflict has descended into a dangerous proxy war

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It is hard to envisage peace in the midst of ruins in Syria. The country has descended into proxy wars, into a pitiless maze of humanitarian and public health catastrophe that transcend religions, race and national boundaries. 

It is heartbreaking to see what was once a flourishing commercial, multi-faith and world heritage cultural hubs turn into rubble. But what has been missing is that after the dust settles, the country and its immediate neighbours need more than physical reconstruction. 

Six years of atrocities, starvation, evacuation, diseases, joblessness, destitution and injustices have turned Syria’s children into a lost generation. They have become victims of sexual molestation, labour exploitation, child marriages, violence and illiteracy. Syria’s neighbours like Jordan and Lebanon, who have the humanitarian and moral certitude to shelter millions of displaced people, bear the brunt in physical, social and psychological terms. One could imagine a surge of cholera, hepatitis and non-communicable diseases – psychoses, depression, anxiety, malnutrition and post-traumatic stress disorders – among refugees and host communities. One could also foresee the rise of radicalism in the absence of hope. 

It is our solemn responsibility to stand in solidarity with them, speak up against injustices and speak out about the values that unite us all: peace, mutual respect, forgiveness and religious diversity.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London NW2

Britain after Brexit

I am a UK national retired in Spain after a career during which I worked in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. I feel obliged to write to express my horror at the current state of affairs in the UK following a recent visit to the country. I seem to remember that at the last general election the British electorate voted for a centre-right Government headed by a pro-European Prime Minister and proposing policies of budgetary discipline, aiming to eliminate the current deficit in a defined timeframe. This Government appeared to welcome a racially diverse population and to take advice from relevant experts in a particular field.

On my recent visit I find that the country is now following a series of extreme right-wing policies. Economic discipline has been abandoned, with the consequent negative impact on sterling, and populist policies sees the views of experts and intellectuals silenced and the ills of the country blamed on “foreigners”. Lists of aliens are requested and anyone who dares question this change in policy is accused of being anti-democratic by a leader for whom nobody has voted and who seems to have no intention of going to the polls to seek public support for her policies.

It appears to me that there has been a silent coup, and the most amazing thing is that nobody appears to have noticed.

Who speaks for me in the UK today? I am a liberal (with a small l) pro-European who believes that history teaches us that immigration strengthens countries, and that targeting racial groups, alienating intellectuals and following a populist right-wing agenda is reminiscent of the fascist governments of the 1930s, which the British people prided itself on opposing.

I am surprised not to see protests in the streets and pray that moderate members of the Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties can form a centrist coalition to oppose the extreme right and the extreme left whose voices are all we hear above the important issues of Strictly Come Dancing, The Great British Bake Off and the sins of Big Sam.

David Breden
El Barco de Avila, Spain

Amid the chaos of the Prime Minister and the Three Brexiteers' shadowy plans for what happens after Article 50 is triggered, let's not forget whose fingerprint is on the gun. When David Cameron promised a referendum that he never expected to call, in order to appease his own backbenchers before the last election, he set in motion the most economically dangerous, socially divisive and terminally damaging train of events since 1945. 

Lauded as he left the Commons for the last time as a “great Prime Minister”, he is now planning his future away from politics now that he has “got his life back” – a life more financially secure than those who will suffer as a result of his short-sighted incompetence.

It is to be hoped – although I doubt it – that the upcoming by-election in Witney will deliver a stern rebuke to their outgoing elected representative about his supreme folly and that of those he has left to clear up the mess in which we're mired.

Graham Powell
Cirencester

If an MP is currently representing his electorate in a constituency in which the vote was to leave the EU, then they must support the decision to leave or they can't say they are truly representing their constituents. We the electorate expect them to do what they were elected for. If it is too much of a burden for them to be true to the constituents then they should resign. Of course, such an honourable action would probably severely restrict the ability of MPs to realise the potential “earning capacity” that their position as an MP affords them.

David Mustoe
Address withheld

Over recent weeks I have noticed a rather unpleasant trait by some who lost the vote in the EU referendum. What is the point of holding a referendum if those who lost have no intention of following the will of the majority but plan to have the result changed? The attempt to cause chaos and havoc may be compared to a child who throws tantrums whenever he or she fails to have their way.

We live in a democracy with an elected Parliament, which is expected to follow the will of the people. We are so proud of our democratic way of life that we have even tried to export it to countries overseas.

To those who are doing all they are able to change the result of the referendum, I say just remember you are British, living in a democratic society where the will of the majority wins the day. Surely, this is what happens every few years when we have elections to choose a new government? 

In life we do not always have that which we may desire. So take your loss and disappointment like a mature adult, remember you are British and “play up, play up, and play the game!” 

Colin Bower
Sherwood

Good fortune

In response to the multimillionaire Sting moaning about the lack of venues for budding musicians, I've got a great idea – fund a few yourself out of your own £185m. Or, better still, retire and let the youngsters have the limelight. Is this what is known as a “first-world problem”?

Keith Gledhill
Liverpool

When large bonuses are paid to already wealthy CEOs and others, those who appreciate the benefit most are those who inherit their estates without having had any part in the creation of that wealth.

Ian Turnbull
Carlisle

Nobel calling

When Bob Dylan was asked what his songs were all about, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature replied: “They're all about three minutes.”

Dr John Doherty
Vienna, Austria

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