Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Syria takes Aleppo's Old City while rebels are asking for a ceasefire.

Smoke rises after strikes in Aleppo, Syria. Reuters. 

The Syrian government has taken back the Old City in Aleppo while the remaining rebels are asking for a cease fire. Reuters. The rebels have lost about 75% of their holdings in Aleppo, which has long been the heart of their rebellion against the Bashar al-Assad government. Russia and the Syrian government are demanding that rebels and terrorists leave the city before any cease fire is agreed to. The rebels are continuing to fight and argue that their should be a cease fire for the sake of the many civilians still trapped in the city. The rebels complain that their allies have abandoned them and that indeed looks like the case. The United States has not taken any action to help the rebels after the election of Donald Trump and Turkey has backed down as well. With food and water running out and fighters exposed to cold weather, the condition of Aleppo has deteriorated rapidly. 

My Comment:
Looks like the beginning of the end for the rebel in Aleppo. They are almost out of time and I can't see them holding on much longer. They are running out of even the most basic of supplies and must have incredibly low morale. Their best bet is to take the Syrian government's deal. Passage out of the city, which is a better outcome then I would have expected. If they don't take it, they will surely die, along with a lot of Syrian soldiers and civilians. 

The rebels are in no position to negotiate. They have lost too much territory to even be a credible threat at this point. They are cut off and the international help they need isn't going to come. Nobody is going to save them so their best bet is to not try to dictate terms. I understand that they do have valid complaints, but at this point it is cooperate or die, and I think it would be better for everyone if they just left. 

It's clear that the rebels allies have abandoned them. I think, in some cases, that was predictable. The fact that the United States has abandoned them was predictable after the election. Barack Obama is many things but he isn't a complete idiot. Getting us involved in a major battle that Russia is participating in would be a hell of a gift to Donald Trump and would pretty much completely tarnish Obama's legacy, such as it is. Credit where credit is due, it seems like he finally figured out that it's not worth supporting the rebels anymore. And I am sure he is more then happy to have someone else deal with the Syria problem. 

Turkey is a bit less explainable. They have always hated the Assad regime and they have wanted them to fall for a long time. It would make sense for them to try to help the trapped rebels in Aleppo, but so far they haven't. Part of that is because they just aren't in a position to do so. They are, despite having troops in Syria, far away from Aleppo and have a bunch of angry ISIS fighters between them and the Syrian troops guarding the city. 

Still, if the Turks had really wanted to save Aleppo, they probably could have. It's too late now, the city will likely fall soon, but they could have pushed harder to bash through ISIS and attack the Syrian regime. They didn't do so and I think they finally realized the implications of doing so. Attacking Syria directly could possibly lead to war with Russia, which is an outcome nobody wants. My guess is that Russia warned them off and threatened them with political and military consequences. Turkey backed down. 

As for Aleppo itself, I don't think it will ever be the same after this battle is over. The city has been largely destroyed, a huge tragedy considering the history of the place. I don't think things will return to normal there for a long time... if ever. I doubt that Syria will have money to rebuild when this war is over so I am guessing it will be ruined for quite some time. 

The big question now is if the war is going to be over soon. I kinda doubt it. After all, ISIS still controls huge swaths of the country in the East while al-Nusra (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) still controls quite a bit of territory west of Aleppo. And there are still rebel groups active throughout the country, including Turkey's proxy army in the north. Even if the main rebel force has it's back broken in Aleppo, the war will continue. 

The main change is that the whole idea that there were secular rebels left to take over when Assad is gone is now nothing but a fiction. It was before but it is undeniable now, if these rebels get wiped out. With the secular rebels a shadow of their former self, perhaps the world can work together to fight ISIS and al-Nusra? At the very least I hope that is true for America and Russia. I would love it if we could fight together since defeating ISIS and al-Nusra is in our collective self interests... 

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