Should we give up on Aleppo?

Should we give up on Aleppo? August 14, 2016

By Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell on Turkish border, "Refugees Flee Aleppo; Hot, Barren Turkish Camps Await". [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, is currently suffering heavily.  The city is divided into two, half held by government forces, and half by rebel forces.  It’s been besieged, and it’s been a battleground, and that going on for years now.

Here’s an excerpt from a piece by an exile-Syrian journalist in the New York Times:

For Syrians like me, who believed in a just revolution, who wanted an end to the oppressive Assad dynasty, the meaning of victory has changed. Victory now includes things we had never imagined five years ago: to not mourn the death of yet another friend; to take a Syrian beggar child off a Turkish, Lebanese or Jordanian street and send her back to school; to end the forced starvation of Syrians living under siege; to root for our Olympic swimmer who swam across the Aegean and now competes not as a Syrian but as a refugee. Victory will be when we weld Syria’s broken map together and our country becomes recognizable again.

Now, it so happens that, what with the recent reports of Turkey and Russia announcing a “reset” in relations (though they are on opposite sides in the conflict, since Turkey supports regime change and Russia, Assad — see this CNN summary, for instance), and the endless chain of refugees, I’d been thinking about this very issue recently.

Clearly, Assad was a bad guy.  Had he been forced from power as easily as Mubarak was, I wouldn’t have been sad to see him go.  But he’s not leaving.  True, I haven’t been following the news reports lately, and have just done a brief read-through of the Wikipedia article, but near as I can tell, the rebel forces are not going to dislodge Assad, especially now that Russia has provided support to the government forces.  The only two outcomes that I can see, absent a massive intervention by the U.S., on a scale far greater than is now the case, are victory by Assad or the continued suffering by the Syrian people.

Again — Assad is not a good guy.  He repressed his people.  But is the continued suffering and loss of life worth the effort to dislodge him?


Image:  By Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell on Turkish border, “Refugees Flee Aleppo; Hot, Barren Turkish Camps Await”. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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