FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Understanding Aleppo

Photo by Khalid Albaih | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Khalid Albaih | CC BY 2.0

 

To understand the situation in Aleppo is to understand that key to the conflict in Syria at this juncture is whether it is Washington and its allies or the Syrian Army and Russia who liberate Raqqa, the capital of the so-called Islamic State.

This is why it does not take a military genius to discern why Washington has been determined to prolong the military operation being conducted by the Syrian Army, supported by Russia, to liberate eastern Aleppo – which remains occupied by Nusra Front and the ‘moderates’ fighting alongside the Salafi-jihadist group. Keeping the Syrian and Russian military forces bogged down there is key to allowing the US-led coalition to complete the operation, currently underway, to take the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS, before continuing an east-west advance across the Syrian border to take Raqqa.

This will allow Raqqa to be established as the de facto capital of so-called moderate Syrian forces, who will be able to re-group there, presumably under cover of a US-imposed no-fly zone, to become a counterweight to the authority of the Assad government in Damascus. Such a development would also enable the establishment of a permanent US military presence in a country that has long been key to Washington’s objective of dominating the region.

That every aspect of such a strategy is illegal under the terms of the UN Charter is of minor consequence to an imperial power that has long treated international law as an optional extra when it comes to pursuing its strategic and geopolitical objectives across the globe. When it comes to the Middle East we are talking a region rich in natural resources, specifically oil. And though not vital in terms of US energy needs the sea of oil upon which the region sits is undeniably key to the stability of global energy prices, which is vital to the US economy.

As Gal Luft, Senior Adviser to the United States Energy Security Council, observed in a 2014 report, “While the U.S. is not dependent on the Middle East for the physical supply of oil, it is dependent on the region for price stability. The U.S. economy is highly susceptible to spikes in oil prices.” Luft goes on, “Over the past 40 years every major hike in oil prices was followed by a recession, and most of those spikes occurred as a result of turmoil in the Middle East: the Arab Oil Embargo, the Iran-Iraq War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, etc.”

As far back as January, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was discussing the importance of Raqqa to US military strategy in Syria. In a speech to the 101st Airborne Division at its Fort Campbell HQ in Kentucky on 13 January, he said, “…our campaign plan’s map has got big arrows pointing at both Mosul and Raqqah. We will begin by collapsing ISIL’s control over both of these cities and then engage in elimination operations through other territories ISIL [ISIS] holds in Iraq and Syria.”

It is an objective the US Defense Secretary trumpeted again in a recent interview with NBC. “It’s been long a part of our plan that the Mosul operation would kick off when it did,” Carter revealed. “This was a plan that goes back many months now and that Raqqa would follow soon behind.”

The howling at the moon we’ve been treated to in recent weeks from Washington and its European proxies, accusing Syria and Russia of targeting civilians in eastern Aleppo, is nothing more than deflection. It is designed to blunt what is an extremely difficult military operation to liberate a civilian population being held hostage by the sectarian butchers of Nusra and other terrorist groups, using women and children as human shields. We know this to be true because despite Russian and Syrian forces regularly establishing humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave eastern Aleppo they are prevented from doing so on pain of execution.

The hypocrisy is laid bare when we consider the lack of concern in Washington for civilians living in government-controlled western Aleppo, who have been subjected to a reign of terror in the form of daily and nightly rocket attacks, including poison gas shells, from Nusra and their ‘moderate’ allies in the east of the city.

Washington’s overarching strategy in the conflict also allows us to understand its refusal to separate those ‘moderate rebel’ groups it claims to have some influence over from their Nusra counterparts, as per the terms of the ceasefire agreed between Washington and Moscow at the beginning of September.  The ceasefire was broken just six days after it began by a US-led airstrike killed dozens of Syrian troops during a battle against ISIS in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, which Washington claimed was a mistake. Such a claim should be taken with the usual pinch of salt, especially when we consider that Deir Ezzor lies adjacent to Raqqa in eastern Syria and therefore will be vital to any future joint Syrian and Russian operation to liberate the city.

Reaching Raqqa before the Syrian Army and its allies is now essential for the US, constituting as it does a last throw of the dice when it comes to its objective of bringing down the Assad government in Damascus, which has long been a thorn in the side of US hegemony in the region along with the regional agendas of its closest Middle East allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

With Syria fatally weakened, US strategists believe, Hezbollah and Iran, the main prize, are also weakened – not to mention Russian power diminished when it comes to the wider struggle for a multipolar alternative to the unipolar status quo.

In a repeat of the race for Berlin at the end of the Second World War, with the outcome shaping the future of Europe and wider world in the context of the ensuing Cold War, the future of Syria, the Middle East, and a world crying out for a multipolar alternative to US global hegemony may well boil down to the race for Raqqa.

More articles by:

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail