The story of Aleppo’s part in the Syrian civil war is pushing towards its conclusion. The siege of Sunni militants holding East Aleppo is coming to an end.
Recent attacks from rebel forces trying to open a corridor from Idleb into Southwestern Aleppo from the outside have been rebuffed after four days of intense fighting.
And the Russian fleet, led by the aircraft-carrying cruiser the Admiral Kuznetsov, arrived off the coast of Latakia province Thursday. This naval group will erect a No-Fly-Zone over not only Syria but also the Eastern Mediterranean, most of Western Turkey and Greece.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a unilateral cease-fire for November 4th. He hoped it would avoid further bloodshed. The Al-Qaeda-linked rebels were given one last chance to walk away with their lives.
The attack from Idleb to reinforce Aleppo failed to do much more than grind up jihadists into pulp. Moon of Alabama cites hundreds killed and more than a thousand injured.
Absent a corridor for reinforcements and Russia prohibiting Turkey from flying any sorties in Syrian airspace there is no other outcome than the siege of Aleppo ending in a few days.
Defense of the lines by the Syrian army was accomplished without Russian air support. The Russians haven’t flown sorties over Aleppo in over two weeks now.
The Aleppo Fulcrum
Aleppo is the key to deciding the Syrian Civil War. Once it falls back under control of the Assad government the rest of the country will fall with relative ease. The wildcard is the U.S.
Since it has now been proven, thanks to Wikileaks, that the U.S., through its proxies, was the insurgents’ primary benefactor what it does next is key to ending the conflict in Syria.
And that brings us to the election on Tuesday. If Donald Trump wins, the prevailing wisdom has him brokering a deal with Putin. This would end the disastrous policy of destabilizing both the Middle East and Central Asia with the goal of blunting Russia’s post-Soviet resurgence.
If Hillary Clinton wins, however, the likelihood is that she will escalate the situation immediately, having a lame duck President Obama openly commit troops and force a showdown with Russia.
Breaking the siege of Aleppo, therefore, is key. Either forcing their surrender or exterminating them will accomplish this. So, expect the second the ceasefire ends for Russian planes and Syrian Arab Army (SAA) forces to begin their final push to eliminate any resistance remaining in the city.
Reports of how many civilians and jihadists remain in eastern Aleppo are conflicted. The West still clings to outdated numbers like 300,000 civilians and more than 8000 Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) fighters left.
The real numbers are closer to less than 30,000 civilians and no more than 900 JFS fighters. For anyone still clinging to the notion that this will be difficult, disabuse yourself of that notion.
From Aleppo to Crushing Plan B
Aleppo’s siege will end quickly without overt U.S. and Turkish support. ISIS has its hands full to the north. Putin has Turkey on a short leash.
In fact, it is possible that the Syrian Army (SAA) will push to Al-Bab northwest of Aleppo to shut down any possible betrayal by Turkey or Kurdish YPG forces.
After Aleppo, which commands a great deal of the SAA’s resources, come the southern cities of Deir Ezor and Raqqa. And now that the U.S. can’t count on Kurdish YPG forces, thanks to Turkey’s incursion into Northern Syria, the road to Raqqa will be easier for the pro-Assad coalition.
The U.S. will have to openly invade Syria or have the whole operation fail. Trump will not stand for this. Obama may create a ‘poison pill,’ sending in troops and leaving the mess to Trump, if he wins.
But, it looks like Obama has his hands full getting Hillary elected to keep both of them out of jail, so salt this idea to taste.
Raqqa is important because it shuts down any ‘Plan B’ of partitioning Syria. It is the gateway to the oil-rich eastern portions of the country.
This entire Syrian ‘Civil War’ was stoked by President Obama and his then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to create a gas pipeline corridor from Qatar to Turkey through Syria.
Plan A, remove Assad and install Sunni radicals, failed last year when the SAA took the Kuweris Airport east of Aleppo. Russia began bombing ISIS oil convoys headed for Turkish ports. And the war turned in Assad’s favor.
Since then, it has been move/counter move to cleave the country in two. This was ‘Plan B,’ redirecting that pipeline through Kurdish territory in exchange for their independence.
That plan is failing thanks to the failed coup attempt by the U.S. against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This laid bare the U.S.’s intention to carve out Greater Kurdistan across eastern Turkey, Syria and northern Iraq and Iran. All that was needed was a pliant Turkish government.
Erdogan was having none of that. And now, he serves his domestic interests by taking orders from Putin. Erdogan is still a very unreliable partner, but for now his interests and Russia’s align.
The failure of this plan is nearly complete. I’m tempted to make a Star Wars reference here. No wonder the Obama administration is hopping mad and Hillary is on the campaign trail demonizing Putin.
The best they can do now is save face by ‘liberating’ Mosul to convince brain-dead Democrats they are fighting ISIS.
Aleppo has always been the fulcrum on which this entire gambit by Putin rested. It’s why he committed so many Russian assets to it. We’ll know in the next few days if it was all worth it.