In a two-part article, Charles Lister writes: The fall of Aleppo represents the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s most significant victory in five-and-a-half years of war. However, the greatest victor is not Syria or its people, but the governments of Russia and Iran, whose differing strategic and geopolitical objectives have been won through a campaign of ruthless violence and diplomatic manipulation. Governments in the United States and Europe have appeared largely disinterested by the indiscriminate violence being meted out to east Aleppo’s 200,000 civilians and when prompted by evidence of war crimes, they have been unwilling or simply incapable of stopping it.
Brutality and criminality won and the much lauded values of human rights and freedom were left smoldering in Aleppo’s ruins. Dictators across the world watched and learned. Syria does not exist in a vacuum, after all.
For Russia, the methodical undermining of American credibility, political influence and humanitarian values has now been achieved. Despite it having taken nearly a year for its September 2015 intervention to show discernible results on the ground, and despite the pinnacle of its effort – the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, labeled by state-owned media as “a quantum jump in Russian military capabilities” – having become a subject of international ridicule and a hazard to its own MiG jets, the collective ‘West’ chose to stand aside and continue its feckless ‘statements of concern.’ Russia now gratefully welcomes diplomatic and economic embraces from traditional U.S. allies in the region, including Qatar, which just invested $11 billion in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer – thus acquiring a 19.5% share of a company currently under U.S. and EU sanction. And the Kremlin surely looks forward to an incoming administration in Washington that appears determined to develop close Russian ties. [Continue reading…]