Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Fall of East Aleppo 2016 : Posturing and Positioning within Britain.

'While all the focus is now on Aleppo, we need to remember that nearly five million Syrians are living in other besieged and hard-to-access cities, towns and villages. Aid drops are urgently needed. Britain and other states with the capacity must act now.'
Peter Tatchell has not got a clue what he is talking about and is posturing. The crisis in Aleppo has been brewing a long time and only in the closing weeks of this bleak December of 2016 are Britain's MPs stamping their feet and emitting shrill rhetoric about the consequences of having not intervened back in 2013.

The reason is because the British political class has continually supported, in fact and deed, the intervention in Syria that actually has happened, through backing Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia's policy as early as 2012 of using the Sunni uprising to overthrow Assad. It was bound to develop into the brutal proxy war it became.

As the fall of east Aleppo is all but inevitable, aid drops by drone are effectively going to be hopeless. Tatchell's belief that Borisj Johnson is 'making excuses' simply misses the mark; transport aircraft would indeed get shot down. Russia has aerial dominance and has enforced an effective 'no-fly zone' over the city.

The time is not for accusations of war crimes connected to tribunals and punishments in advance of diplomatic talk by all the regional powers concerned. Britain is supporting Saudi Arabia in committing war crimes in Sanaa in Yemen. This atrocity is almost being screened out completely from the news in the West.

This indeed shows the selective humanitarianism of Britain's political class means that it gets little mention. Saudi Arabia has been rightly criticised by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn but it seems hardly likely that many of his own cabinet or party would take any ethical initiative that went against the grain of US policy.

Even so, what Britain could be doing is ceasing all military assistance and all arms deals to Saudi Arabia pending a ceasefire there and its full commitment to diplomacy to resolve what is a regional proxy war between primarily Iran and the Gulf States, one undergirded by sectarian enmities whipped up by both.

None of the major regional powers would sit down to talks on the basis that in advance many of them are going to be later tried for war crimes. If Britain told Riyadh that it needs to make peace so that then its leading statesmen and the leaders of the militias it backed are going to be arrested, they will simply fight on.

Given that the US and Britain are complicit in supporting war crimes in Yemen, the US certainly would not agree and , anyway, President Obama's administration is on its way out and Donald Trump will be in office by late January 2017. There is just no realistic chance of waging a struggle on human rights grounds alone.

Tatchell's idea about sending in UN peacekeepers only could make sense after a peace has been forged, at least a durable ceasefire and commitment by all sides to end the proxy war. It is the backing of vying regional powers for geopolitical dominance-connected to energy routes- that is fuelling the continued carnage.

The idea observers would last more than a few days in war-torn regions of Syria is ludicrous. Either regime forces would prevent them moving around or jihadists would kidnap or murder them. Even independent journalists are not reporting from east Aleppo. It's virtually impossible as they would disappear quickly.

Britain ought to try is to align closer with Iran slightly just as to send the message to Saudi Arabia that its policy in Syria is no longer supported. Nor in Yemen. At least Obama started to move towards that position but neither Tatchell nor many MPs seem to understand how regional geopolitical strategy has actually 'worked'.

If MPs do understand, as Osborne probably does, the rhetoric about 'doing something' or the 'duty to intervene' back in 2013 is all about making Britain and themselves appear to have some moral highground and to absolve themselves from responsibility for the carnage they are responsible for helped having unleashed.

Britain has intervened in Syria by backing Saudi policy and 'Assad must go' instead of pursuing regional diplomacy. Whether the fall of Aleppo spells the end of the war is doubtful but as none of those who once encouraged the Sunni rebels now wants to back them, the gory endgame is the result consequently playing out.

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