At the outset of Syria’s brutal four-year civil war, I was an almost unique voice in the British media deploring the push to depose the secular dictator President Bashar al-Assad, especially in the absence of a genuinely popular uprising against him. Here in The Spectator I tried to point out that such a short-term strategy would have devastating long-term consequences. Assad, I argued, would not fall, because the people of Damascus would not rise up against him. The so-called secular rebels were in fact vicious Islamists in disguise. Western interests in the region would be dramatically undermined by Saudi and Iranian militias, who would fight a devastating proxy war. Syria’s extraordinarily diverse population risked annihilation as a result. And we could even end up provoking a full-blown war with Russia.