Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Post-Aleppo Syria

Middle East Briefing

 'First, a couple of words for those trash ATMs who keep talking about “foiling the conspiracy of regime change in Syria”. This trash assumes that the hundreds of thousands that rushed out to protest in the streets of Syrian towns and villages in 2011 were all pushed by a vicious American conspiracy to change the regime in Damascus. It is an interesting assumption to say that all those protestors moved because someone pressed a button somewhere in Washington.

 Furthermore, if Obama wanted indeed to topple Assad he could have helped the opposition in 2012. At that time, the opposition’s main group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), was made of defecting Syrian officers and soldiers who refused to obey orders to shoot at civilians. In fact, the main criticism directed by the Syrian at the US is that it resisted all along any decisive action to topple Assad.

 Those active distributors of that kind of trash are in fact helping the Iranian IRGC, Hezbollah, the Iraqi Shia zealots who raise sectarian flags over their units in the Nujaba gang fighting in Syria and one particularly oppressive dictators whom his crimes against opinion prisoners are documented.

 If some people do not have the moral fabric to admit that Assad is a children killer, a dictator who used brutal violence to quell peaceful protestors in 2011, and a man who accepted to destroy his country to defend his chair, they better at least shut up.

 Second a quick comment on what will follow Aleppo.

 The assumption that the fall of Aleppo to Assad’s forces is a game changer in Syria is questionable, at least, and flat-wrong at most. After all, Aleppo was in the hands of Assad until mid-July 2012. The way the opposition captured the east of the old city could very well be repeated in a future phase of the ongoing Syrian tragedy, so long as this tragedy continues.

 Even the claim that the defeat of Syria’s armed opposition will guarantee that it will never be back on its feet again is as erroneous as the previous one. In 2011, there was no Syrian armed opposition at all. Now, this armed opposition is a decisive factor in the course of events. As it was born from villages and streets five years ago, when Assad killed peaceful demonstrators, it will be born again and again, even faster as now most Syrian know who destroyed their country to his rule.

 We may be absorbed by the daily details coming from the battle fields in Syria. We may be too close to the picture to see the basic facts that started this tragedy and pushed it to spiral to what we currently see. But as it all started, it can start again over and over until the dictator leaves, oppression ends, and a free Syria ruled by its people emerges from this painful birth. For as long as there are Syrian, there will be opposition to Bashar Al Assad.

 Now, to Aleppo.

 Secretary of State John Kerry understands that capturing Aleppo will simply inflate Assad’s illusions about “liberating every inch of Syria”. The Secretary understands that this will mean “liberating Syria from Syrians” as is already happening. He knows that the fall of Aleppo will in fact complicate the path to any reasonable pacification plan in a country torn by war. But in all fairness to the Secretary, his boss denied him any tools to help pressure Assad and his allies.

 Still, the Secretary was desperately trying to prevent this complication until the last moment. He understands that the Trump administration may act in a way that exacerbates the deep split in Syria and he tried to open one last road to a reasonable end of the war before he goes.

 But Kerry’s attempts did not succeed before the elections, it is difficult to see how they could after the elections. Kerry’s most recent proposal was to stop the vengeance bombardment of Aleppo and embark on a meaningful exchange on the diplomatic track. He proposed a separation between the non-ISIL and non-Qaeda opposition and the rest. According to his plan, the terrorist affiliated groups would leave Aleppo when the relentless bombardment of its eastern quarters stops. A multi-party talks is to start soon after.

 But there was no chance whatsoever that Kerry’s midnight effort succeeds. Assad’s media mocked it. The Russians laughed. And the Iranians did not even listen.

 If Aleppo is captured by Assad and his Russian and Shia allies, the opposition fighters will go to the north west, the east and the south to continue their fight. They will focus more on infiltrating western urban areas. A long-term insurgency will begin until the next revolution in Syria topples the dictator. No one should expect the Syrians to give up after all these sacrifices.

 Unless Assad empties east Aleppo of its inhabitants, as he is already doing with starvation and extremely brutal violence against civilians, the city will resist his thugs. Only an empty Aleppo is a defeated Aleppo.

 In few words: Assad’s control over Aleppo is but one phase of a long-term strategy. Assad may win a battle, but let us not forget that he thought he won before to end up bringing the Russians, Hezbollah and Iraqi and Afghani Shia militias to help him remain presiding over a people who refuse him. And we still see some idiots applauding this.'

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