While the White House and a couple of Senators are loudly Trump-eting about the alleged Russian involvement in an email hack, we’re missing out on a major news story: The civil war in Syria is all over bar the shouting. (And inevitable reprisals.)
Don’t mistake me: The email thing is important. I believe it will drive our news for much of the next year, and the results could be extremely impressive. But Aleppo is huge, and I don’t want you to miss it.
All right; so here’s the situation six weeks ago: Of the (roughly) five major factions involved in the Syrian civil war, all five were active in and around the city of Aleppo. If you look at it on a topographical map, you can easily see why, and why it’s such a major city in the first place. It’s sited at the confluence of four major roadways, and it controls passage both north-south and east-west.
The anti-Assad rebels have been using it for months now as a way to keep in contact with Kurdish forces in the north and ISIL/Daesh in the east. It has also, and not entirely coincidentally, been a physical obstacle in Russian-backed government’s path to finally come to grips with ISIL.
And then comes the American election, between Clinton (who favored a no-fly zone and active intervention) and Trump (who withheld comment but seems pro-Russia). Once that decision was made, suddenly loyalist forces (with the help of Russian airstrikes) solidified their siege of the strategically vital city at the same moment that rebels (some formerly supplied by the CIA) lost morale and, perhaps most importantly, resupplies of anti-aircraft handheld missile ammunition.
Fast-forward through a month of siege, with brutal house-to-house conflict, artillery bombardment, massive civilian casualties, and airstrikes against anything that moves out of the city. Ignore for the moment the humanitarian crisis and concentrate on the specific. Sift through the news and you’ll see that cease-fires have consistently been broken by Al Qaeda and ISIL/Daesh supporters in order to crush rebel resistance and suppress Kurdish forces.
And remember that, according to ISIL/Daesh doctrine, their plan is to force an apocalyptic conflict, because at heart they’re a militant end-times cult.
– Assad is happy. He can finally engage ISIL/Daesh and drive them back to the Iraqi border.
– Russia is delighted. Their man is winning with their help, and Russian economic influence in Syria in the future has been assured.
– ISIL/Daesh is happy. They can finally engage in their war of dying to the last man, and they’ll see if their prophecies of divine intervention are correct.
– Turkey is terrified. Russia to the north and south, separatist Kurds in a state of armed open revolt, and mixed levels of support from their old American allies.
– Al Qaeda (traditionally supported by Saudi money) is ready to pull out and move to other wars.
– Unaffiliated native rebels are about to get exterminated. Poor bastards. It’ll be a government-sanctioned bloodbath, and there’s nothing to be done to prevent it.
– The United States is horribly embarrassed, and will end up taking most of the blame.
And all of this is the inevitable consequence of the fall of Aleppo. This is why it’s important.
You’ll see partisan altLeft and altRight news sites reporting about who now gets which oil pipeline. That’s part of the money trail, and it’s probably useful if you’re trying to track down which players are doing what, but in America it’s just going to be another distraction. The Left will use it to hide behind (because America helped start this war) and the Right will, foolishly, use it to attack the Left. Just remember, it’s all a smoke screen.
Likewise, in my opinion, the timing of the news about the ‘Russian hack’ is not coincidental. Yes, it’s driven in part by the Electoral College vote on Monday, but it’s also a handy smokescreen — because the Obama Administration is looking at an extreme international embarrassment, and any major domestic scandal can help bury that.
Again: The ‘Russian hack’ is important. I don’t want to detract from that. Whether it’s real-time developments (as the Left insists) or fabricated news for political reasons (as the Right insists), it’s going to drive domestic political events through at least much of the next year and possibly the entirety of the next presidency.
But don’t forget about Aleppo.