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Issues of the Day Civilians as Cannon Fodder: The Continuing Fiasco in Syria

The casualness with which Syrian and Russian armed forces are bombing trapped civilians in the city of Aleppo in western Syria and in the predominantly Kurdish Hasakah region of that country’s northeast, is stunning. Syrian forces have been said to be dropping incendiary bombs on the Damascus suburb of Daraya and the Syrian military recently has also been charged by Amnesty International with the use of chlorine and other chemical weapons in  Aleppo and elsewhere.  


Condemnation from the international community, governments, parastatals, and NGOs continues to be muted. Perhaps the bloodshed throughout the region, in Iraq and Syria and further afield in Afghanistan and Pakistan is too overwhelming and produces a sense of helplessness, but at the very least outrage must be expressed.  


Cynical Assistance

After more than five years of civil war, the hereditary dictatorship of Bashir Assad is being bolstered with the cynical assistance of Russia’s aerial and naval firepower and  the support of fighters sponsored by Iran and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia. Russia, claiming to act in order to secure the integrity of the Syrian state and against terrorism, has been actively participating in and abetting grievous actions against civilians.


Russia’s geopolitical objectives are clear: serving as the decades-long patron of the Assad regimes, that of the father Hafez and later of his son Bashir, is intended to preserve its strategic interests in the Middle East, including the presence of its large air force and other military facilities in Latakia.


Why does Russia continue its patronage for Assad, who is increasingly being accused of war crimes? An interesting article on the subject appears here. Another view, that what is playing out in Syria can be viewed as a proxy war between Moscow and Washington is described in this The New York Times report.


A Continuing Humanitarian Disaster

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs since March 2011 “over a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed and over one million have been injured. 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country, and 6.5 million are internally displaced, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally.”


The ramifications of the conflict range far and wide, throughout the Middle East and beyond, yet realpolitik seems to have gained the upper hand and has lulled the world into a complacency it can ill-afford. 

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