Saturday, December 17, 2016

The View Into Syria From Delusional Britain: An Unfortunate Misadventure

"Both Russia and Iran have failed to uphold their  obligations under international  humanitarian law, specifically by failing to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians during the months when eastern Aleppo was besieged."
"They deserve no credit for the fact that an evacuation appears to be under way today."
Boris Johnson, British Foreign Secretary

"Even if he defeats the opposition in Aleppo, there is no victory in bombing hospitals and restricting humanitarian aid and ending up in a country that you only control 40 per cent of and is half destroyed with millions dispersed and hundreds of thousands killed. That is no victory."
"[The crisis in Aleppo is] a tragedy of Russia’s making."
Sir Michael Fallon, British Defence Secretary
Ambulances and buses wait as they evacuate people from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo
Ambulances and buses wait as they evacuate people from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo Credit:  ABDALRHMAN ISMAIL/REUTERS
"[British forthcoming aid will] mean the difference between life and death for those fleeing Aleppo and those caught in freezing conditions in the city after being systematically bombed from their homes by the Syrian regime and its Russian allies.""Protecting innocent civilians must be an absolute priority. It is paramount that aid agencies now get the unfettered, secure access they need to save lives inside east Aleppo."
British International Development Secretary Priti Patel
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's assured victory in east Aleppo, thanks to the involvement of Iran's Republican Guard militias, its proxy Lebanese Hezbollah, Moscow's air cover and Shiite militias eager to meet face-to-face with Sunni opposition rebels, will not end with the destruction of east Aleppo and the starvation, privation and misery forced through siege on its civilian population, along with the defeat and departure of the Syrian rebels.

The tens of thousands of the original half-million left in the east of the city that once housed two and a half million Syrian Sunnis will only enjoy a temporary reprieve with their evacuation from bombed-out east Aleppo and their arrival in rebel-held territory in Idlib and Aleppo provinces. Assad's intention of destroying the insurgency completely is far from complete. And he means to complete the miraculous accomplishment that appeared so formidable a year earlier.
Buses in convoy on their way out of east Aleppo
Buses in convoy on their way out of east Aleppo Credit:  YOUSSEF KARWASHAN/AFP/Getty Images
The Syrian Baathist president stated in a recent interview that winning back Aleppo "won't mean the end of the war in Syria, but it will be a huge step toward this end". The temporary relief that the on-again-off-again evacuations will provide for Syrian Sunni civilians and their rebel counterparts is but a temporary device. Their east Aleppo evacuation means that for the time being, once taken out of that damned theatre of one-sided war, they will suffer no more siege, starvation and bombs, a hiatus not a cessation.

President Assad's idea of what constitutes a truce, is in fact a prelude to one of his many emerging victories, courtesy of Russian air power which, like Syrian air power never hesitates to bomb schools, dense communities, health clinics and hospitals. Hundreds of young men in the opposition who had agreed in 2014 to surrender in the Old City of Homs were detained following a similar to east Aleppo starvation siege. There is nothing quite like the efficacy of dire privation to promote submission.

Assad promised amnesty to those who voluntarily surrendered. And though many met their ends, others were forcibly conscripted into the military they abhorred, knowing that their families were killed by that military, yet becoming at one with them, however against their will. Assad has refined siege, refugee-making and detentions, torture and death-deliverance to a fine art of conquest of his perceived enemies. It is his inimitable "scorched soul" policy.

From a low point several years back, to his present high with his confidence restored and his resolution supported unquestioningly by Vladimir Putin and the Iranian Ayatollahs, he forges ahead knowing that the rebels' resistance will ultimately be futile against the strengths Assad has so serendipitously acquired. His three-step protocol of making areas held by his opposition unlivable, his isolation of fighters from civilians, and his ability to force both to surrender or to leave, gain him his goals quite handily.

There will surely come a time when he will face a final quandary of how to dispose of what is left of millions of Syrian Sunnis who form a majority in the country. He can slaughter and he has, with grim impunity, putting the Islamist jihadist terrorist ISIL to shame on their death count, but he cannot dispose of that many annoying-to-his-complacency-as-tyrant, opposition Syrians. Can he? Or can he?

Leaving the European Council summit in Brussels, Britain's new Prime Minister Theresa May stated that: "President Assad and his backers, Russia and Iran, bear responsibility for the tragedy in Aleppo.They must now allow the United Nations to ensure the safe evacuation of the civilians who are left there." Must they? They do not appear to feel that they must, despite the grumblings and the calls for conscience to prevail....

Perhaps they must put a shuddering and final halt to bombing civilian enclaves, hospitals, schools and heritage sites. It's likely that they must surely stop destroying so many lives of men, women and children who just happen not to enjoy the fact that they are not given the status of equality to that other Muslim sect whom Assad represents? Must they? Why mustn't they be forced to stop their atrocities? Why because no one forces them to.

But all is well, Britain is 'urgently' sending blankets, medical kits, clean water and food for civilians from Aleppo. They will be so fittingly grateful.

Civilians take shelter in a rebel-held neighbourhood in Aleppo. Photograph: Karam al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images

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