Saturday, October 1, 2016

As diplomacy breaks down, Russia sends more airplanes to Syria to win the battle of Aleppo.

A Syrian child walks among the rubble in a rebel control part of Aleppo. Reuters. 

Russia is deploying even more jets to continue their campaign to help the regime recapture Aleppo as diplomacy fails. Reuters. Russia hopes that new deliveries of SU-24's and SU-34 will tip the momentum in favor of Syrian forces. US diplomats have been desperately trying to renew a cease fire deal to end the battle in Aleppo, but have failed. Some diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have suggested military force against the Russians to bring them back to the table but have been overruled. The Russians are unwilling to work with the Americans due to the fact that the Americans haven't kept their word when it comes to the former al-Nusra terror group, now called Jabaht Fatah al-Sham. The Russians consider the group to be terrorists and the main reason why the cease fire fell apart in the first place. 

My Comment:
I haven't talked about Aleppo lately, other then in the context of Gary Johnson not knowing what it is. But I think a review of the situation is long overdo. The city is largely cut off and the Syrian regime is doing their best to make the rebels trapped there surrender. If they do, or if they end up taking the entire city through military force, then they will have a huge victory. 

Aleppo has long been the center of the rebel resistance. Syria's second city has obvious strategic importance, given it's location, but it also has huge symbolic importance as well. If the rebels are pushed out of the city for good, then the secular rebels are essentially broken. Don't get me wrong, the rebels have other strongholds of course, but if they lose Aleppo, they essentially lose the war. 

Which is why the United States is trying so hard to engineer a cease fire. All they are doing is trying to buy time. Nobody thinks that an actual peace deal is possible, though they will try anyways, this is mostly a stalling tactic. The main benefit that the United States gets with a cease fire is that the rebels get to rest, recuperate and rearm, so that when the next peace deal falls apart, they are in a better position then they are now. Any concerns about humanitarian conditions in Aleppo are a tertiary concern at best, and not something I believe the government is interested in. 

In short, I think that by trying to reach a cease fire, the American government is going to prolong the war. By trying to save the 250,000 or so people in Aleppo they may make the war continue for years, which could end up killing even more people than would be saved by ending the battle. If our goal was to save lives, we would join the Russians in bombing the rebels and end the war against them immediately.

The situation is even worse then that though, unfortunately. All the effort being wasted in Aleppo, by all sides, is effort better used in fighting the Jihaidsts in Syria. ISIS and al-Nusra both need to be wiped off the map but right now they are secondary figures because of the battle of Aleppo. If the battle were to end, not in a cease fire but a victory, then all those resources could be directed elsewhere.  By not defeating ISIS, we are risking further terror attacks and the possibility that the situation in Syria (or Iraq) degrades to the point where they gain back the territory they have lost. And if al-Nusra is left alone, do you really think they will settle for just being a Syrian terror organization?  

Of course prolonging the war has other side effects as well.The European migrant crisis is worsened every day as more and more Syrians decide that the war is never going to end. So they are pulling out. Though winning the battle of Aleppo wouldn't suddenly bring peace to the conflict, it might give a few Syrians pause and it could even convince a few to come back. By prolonging the battle, we are only making the migrant crisis worse. 

I think that our entire plan in Syria is beyond stupid. We are trying to overthrow Syria's government largely to deny Iran an ally and placate Israel. To do so, we have allowed terrorists to flourish in the country, let thousands of people die and destabilized the whole region. We have also incited a migrant crisis which will have reverberations in Europe for generations, all of them negative. In short, we set the whole world on fire for no good reason and when it's clear that we are never going to get what we want, we won't admit it.

What do we do? Well right now John Kerry and a few other people in the government are in favor of threatening the Russians with military force. They want to give the rebels more weapons, send a bunch of jets and cargo planes to the city just to see what happens and if that doesn't work, threaten violence against Russia, a nuclear armed country. This is utter insanity, and I can't understand why we are even considering it. 

My sincere hope is that Russia does manage to turn the tide with these additional jets. I don't think they will have a huge impact, after all, battles are won by soldiers, not jets. But air support does help with morale and is used as a force multiplier. If they are deployed correctly, and nothing bizarre happens, then perhaps Russia and Syria can finally liberate Aleppo and end that chapter of the war for good... 

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