Syria Deeply spoke with Frederic Hof, a former ambassador and resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, and Hassan Hassan, a Syria expert with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, about the strategic importance of Aleppo, the likelihood of a “cessation of hostilities” by the end of the week, and the difference in endgames between Damascus and Moscow.
Syria Deeply: Would a siege on Aleppo be a game changer for Russia and the Assad regime?
Frederic Hof: A siege of Aleppo would add about 250,000 people to the 1 million Syrians already besieged, the overwhelming majority by the Assad regime. As over 20 reports by Ban Ki-moon testify, the regime systematically denies access by U.N. humanitarian aid convoys to these areas. So a besieged Aleppo would change an already abysmal game to something even worse. There is no evidence of Moscow seeking an exit from Syria, graceful or otherwise. The nature of the Russian military campaign suggests that President Vladimir Putin wishes to neutralize all alternatives to Assad and ISIS in the hope that Washington will embrace Assad and thus implicitly renounce “regime change.” It is not unthinkable that he could succeed. [Continue reading…]