Tariq Ali: I don’t think sanctions work. They are essentially a symbolic measure. Usually when sanctions are applied against a country, they affect the poor people in that country more than the ruling elites, as we saw for years before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. They had imposed a bloody sanctions regime, which led to the loss of children’s lives because medicines were proscribed. Now they are saying that these sanctions apply largely to Bashar al-Assad and Ba’athist functionaries. Well, these people can still carry on. I don’t think they will be too affected. It will be an irritation, but nothing more. . . . I don’t think they can go too far. I mean, till very recently, they were negotiating, on very friendly terms, with Bashar al-Assad, trying to get him away, detach him, from Iran, drag him towards their side, and possibly even use him and the Ba’athist regime in Syria against Tehran. Well, that has now fallen by the wayside. But in my opinion the intervention of the West in Libya has been a disaster. The bombings, the indiscriminate attacks, the destruction of buildings in Libya, the clear siding with one side in this conflict has meant that, whatever happens, the Libyan people have actually lost, because they are now caught between the hammer of the West and the anvil of Muammar Gaddafi. It’s been a disastrous business. So it is always better for a country, any country, to develop organically. If the people can topple a government, that is how it should happen. Whenever the West intervenes, it is usually a disaster.
Tariq Ali is a writer and filmmaker. He is also an editor of New Left Review. Tariq Ali’s most recent book is The Obama Syndrome. This video was released by Russia Today on 19 May 2011. The text above is an edited partial transcript of the interview.