Fred Hof writes: Some 70 months ago, unarmed, ordinary Syrians rose peacefully against a regime whose incompetence and corruption they had come grudgingly to accept. It was their rulers’ detention and beating of children that provided the tipping point. The same regime seeks now to capitalize on a bloody victory in Aleppo, where children again have been targeted. But the actual and prospective costs associated with the deliberate slaughter of civilians in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria are steep, and everyone connected with this abomination will pay, especially those who have stood by and watched.
For Syrians hoping for a future free of the Assad family and entourage, the price of Aleppo is bitter. Prodded by a violent regime into armed resistance it did not want, undermined by regime-facilitated extremists and abandoned by pseudo-friends unwilling to match words with deeds, Syrian nationalists must now acknowledge that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s survival strategy is working.
That strategy is rooted in collective punishment. The regime, with the enthusiastic support of Russia and Iran, does not hesitate to kill, maim, terrorize and displace civilians in areas where rebel forces are present. Indeed, the Russian air force has demonstrated a special aptitude for destroying hospitals. For Assad and his allies, no atrocity is unthinkable.
Nationalists opposing Assad must ask and answer some hard questions. Has armed resistance run its course? Would it be more humane to lay down arms in the hope that fewer people will be killed, maimed, tortured, starved and displaced than is currently the case? Should ending industrial-strength terror from the skies and starvation sieges down below be the top priority? Given the carnage of Aleppo and all that has preceded it, there is no doubt about what the regime and its allies are willing to do. Neither can there be any doubt about the refusal of the West, notwithstanding its “Never Again” rhetoric, to offer a modicum of protection. [Continue reading…]