The regional dimensions of destroying Aleppo

Aleppo will increase the hostile appetite of Iran and its allies

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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The humanitarian tragedy in Aleppo has gotten so bad it is indescribable, and represents the peak of Syria’s ordeal. Not defying the aggressors will give them carte blanche to do whatever they want in the region, and to destroy whatever is left of Syria and commit more crimes. Aleppo will increase the hostile appetite of Iran and its allies.

However, they will not achieve their aim of restoring the authority of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo or other cities. The Assad regime has spoken of “liberating” Aleppo since last year, when Russian forces entered Syria and participated in the war alongside Iran and the regime. The situation is still the same despite Moscow’s claim that it withdrew most of its forces, which turned out to be untrue.

Iran joined the fighting in Syria two years before Russia, and like the latter it has not succeeded. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) expanded its capabilities by forming an alliance of extremist religious militias, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iraqi League of the Righteous, Afghans and others. That also failed, as did the Assad regime in achieving its aims ever since confrontations began with Syrian citizens in 2011.

Russian and Syrian regime warplanes have complete air supremacy because the Syrian opposition has been deprived of surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft weapons. The Russian and Syrian air forces have only succeeded in destroying cities in an unprecedented manner since World War II. However, this has not achieved any significant results except for capturing some of Aleppo’s neighborhoods.

The silence of the region’s governments over this annihilation will make them pay a higher price later when Iran repeats its crimes

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Assad does not dare leave his castle in Damascus, as part of the capital’s countryside is still held by the opposition after the IRGC and Hezbollah failed to seize it. The results of the Russian-Iranian intervention are insignificant.

This is the case even if we take into consideration efforts to cut Turkish funding and decrease foreign support to the opposition, UN silence over these armies’ crimes against civilians, and the U.S.-led alliance coordinating with the Syrian regime against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and allowing Assad’s forces to take over liberated areas.

Action needed

Cities have been destroyed, people displaced and more than 300,000 murdered, but the Syrian regime’s authority has not been restored. The forces of Iran, Russia and the regime will continue their annihilation, murder and displacement if regional powers do not act and support the Syrian opposition by supplying it with anti-aircraft weapons.

We do not expect direct military intervention by any country in the region. The United Nations will not do anything, and US President Barack Obama will not alter his negligent stance. The silence of the region’s governments over this annihilation will make them pay a higher price later when Iran repeats its crimes.

I fear we will see this soon in Iraq, as Iran feels that no one is defying it in Syria. Tehran is destroying the political system in Baghdad for the purpose of fully controlling it, and will most probably push its forces or militias to take control. The crisis will expand if a front that resists the Iranian camp is not established.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 04, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

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