Aleppo: I’m confused…

The TV news continues to report distressing scenes from Aleppo. Civilian deaths, destruction, and more involvement from the allies of the Assad regime, with ships and aircraft arriving in greater numbers. The attacks are condemned by western governments, and all the media too. Aid is not getting through, children are being killed in the bombing, and despite being warned of the attacks, civilians are not leaving the beleaguered city.

As the Syrian government builds up forces on the outskirts, and bombs and artillery shells continue to rain down on the city, the ‘rebel fighters’ within seem to be more determined than ever to retain control of the country’s second largest city. Although there has been an outflow of refugees, it is estimated that more than 300,000 remain, clinging on to what is left of their ruined homes.

We are left in no doubt who is to blame. The Assad government, cruel and ruthless. The Russian allies, happy to help prop up an unpopular and failing regime, despite condemnation from so many other countries. Putin flexing the muscles of his country, completely disregarding world opinion. Assad determined to eradicate all opposition, whatever the cost. It says so on the TV news, and in the daily newspapers, the statements of US leaders, UK leaders, and almost every leader in the so-called ‘free world’. So that must be the case.

So why am I confused?

This is the same media, and some of the same leaders, who told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They told us that Saddam was evil, Qaddafi was evil, and most of the other governments in that region, Iran included, were evil too. They told us that the Taliban was evil, perhaps correctly, and that ISIS was evil, again perhaps correctly, at least from the viewpoint of what society considers to be acceptable outside of those regions. Before that, they told us that Al-Qaeda was evil, and hunted down its leader, Osama Bin Laden. The new president-elect of the USA has stated many times that he is in favour of hunting down all Muslim fundamentalist fighters, wherever they may be.

Well, I have some news for him. many of them are in Aleppo, resisting the lawful (like it or not) government of Syria for the last four years. Let’s take some time to examine just who these ‘rebel’ fighters there really represent. There are many, so I will list them for clarity.
The Al-Tawhid Brigade. (Backed by foreign countries, including Qatar)
The Muslim Brotherhood. (In favour of Sharia Law. Sound familiar?)
Shams-al-Shamal. The Northern Sun battalion. (Formed by army officers opposed to Assad)
The Free Syrian Army. (A mixed bag of jihadists and former soldiers)
Foreign volunteers. (Muslim radicals from Chechnya, Libya, Yemen, France, the UK, and other countries. Some of these have since returned to the west, and have been responsible for attacks against civilians in European countries. Many are now on most-wanted lists in many parts of the world)
Kurdish nationalist militia. (These men are fighting for independence from Syria, and have joined the fundamentalists in the hope of achieving this)
Al-Qaeda. (Yes, them again, currently mounting the fiercest opposition inside the city)
Some other smaller groups are allied with these, and their main agenda is the formation of a fundamentalist Muslim state in Syria. Their eventual aims are remarkably similar to those of ISIS, currently considered to be the natural enemy of the western way of life.

Is it any wonder that I am confused? An estimated force of 10,000 of these assorted Muslim extremists are currently holding the second largest city in a foreign country, yet their fate is somehow supposed to be not only the responsibility of the western powers, but by some twisted reasoning, they have become to be seen as our allies too. And all because we are not supposed to like Assad.

And because the Russians are helping him, let’s not forget that.

We should revisit the lessons of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and many other countries. Destabilising regimes may seem attractive on the surface, but the outcome of such interference has been plain to see in the past. Extremists posing as refugees, seeking asylum in countries where they then carry out atrocities, and help to radicalise young men and women. Foreign nations left in a continuing state of civil war and sectarian violence after the loss of stability. Most have become more extreme in their attitudes to organised religion, and vociferous in their hatred of those western countries who once helped to organise their resistance.

So before you sign the petitions against Assad, calling for him to be tried as a war criminal. And before you add your voice to the growing clamour against Putin’s Russia, take some time to look at who you will be supporting instead.

Learn some harsh lessons from history, and be careful what you wish for…



  1. John Liming's Blog

    Some of the Media always lies … the Allepo situation has to be making somebody millions of dollars because war is always profitable to some warmonger somewhere ….. I think Assad’s regime was in power for a long time and apparently it worked for the People there for a long time …. Somebody must have gotten something up their backsides to create the rebellion …. By the way if you think Allepo is such a tragedy try to imagine for a moment what it would be like if a bunch of heavily armed rebels decided to foment revolution in The United States. Do you think for a moment that the bombs would not fall and the civilians would not die en masse at the hands of loyalist troops who think they are fighting to preserve democracy against a bunch of thugs and criminals? Isn’t that how the Press would label the “Freedom Fighters” is such turmoil were to erupt on American soil? — I believe so. — The point I want to make is, I think the world would have been a lot better off if the powers that be had left Iraq alone, left Egypt alone, Left Syria alone — and let them fight their own battles. There is nothing to be gained in unleashing the dogs of war on some of these little crap holes of countries except for some huge profits for some warmongers somewhere. We need to avoid getting entangled in any more International messes because we are spread too thin already. Let them fight their own wars and let the rest of the world stay the Heck out of it. I think we need to disband the UN and turn it into a shopping mall.


  2. Woebegone but Hopeful

    I congratulate you Pete on a very detailed and well reasoned post. Then is something of an addition, taking up on your point of history. I apologise for the length, there is a conclusion
    History itself is a stern teacher, and has a very, very long reach. Looking at the current situation in Syria and the interactions of various parties, the question springs to mind. Where do we start? Events linked back through many decades. Taking a point at random, we could look from the mid 19th Century when empires of Britain, France, German-Prussia, Austro-Hungary- Russia and Ottoman Turkey fought and manoeuvred for influence of domination in various parts of Central, Eastern, and Balkan Europe as well as The Middle East. In these dynamics, the nascent lines of today’s national, cultural and political struggles were born. If we leave out the revolutions of 1848, the Wars of German expansion and Italian Unification and ‘skip’ to the patchwork of Balkans wars, these indicate some of the factors which led to WWI, in the ferment of which the Sykes-Picot was drawn up driving lines through cultural and ethnic borders in the Middle East. In the aftermath of the latter came the ‘Mandaites’ by which France and Britain dominated swathes of the Middle East, from these geometrical arrangements can be seen the new fuel for tensions simmering since the 19th century.
    In the aftermath of WWII and the demise of France and Britain came the social experiments by the newly independent middle eastern states in which Islam was obliged to take a back seat. Here a re-surgent Russia and the new kid USA played out one version of The Great Game. It all failed; the matrix of tribal, ethnic, religious and social would not be squeezed in the neat boxes of Communism or Democracy. In consequence it was quite natural that Islam in its myriad forms would take centre stage once more, although both West and Russia endeavoured to influence but mis-read the complexities.
    And now here we are today, with no particular guiding lights or over-arching intention. Russia is in one of its powerful stages with a leader who is following the normal pattern of diplomatic/military governance. It can be argued Putin is actually following the examples of the stronger czars (Stalin included: who said of Peter The Great ‘He got the job done,’). In post WWII Russia has sought out influence in the Middle East to allow itself greater access to the ‘Warm Water Ports’ it has always wished for. Assad is in the mould of the typical weaker son of a strong ruler doing his deals to keep his family and clan in power. Whether Russia will decide at some stage he needs replacing is to be seen.
    Thus to be brutally detached (and I’m going to dislike myself later on), there is nothing new going on here in the geo-political framework. There are similarities with the Spanish Civil War, The Lebanese and Afghanistan Wars of the late 20th & early 21st centuries. Certainly there are echoes of the wars and gang-turf struggles which have plagued parts of post-colonial Africa. We can also draw on the myriad of ethnic and social ‘small’ wars which haunted East and Central Europe following WWI for examples.
    Gloomy isn’t it? Innocents are dying in their thousands, because collectively Europe, Russia and the USA did not learn the fundamental lesson of WWII, war is now and industrial process which sucks in any living things, consuming resources and reduces landscapes to wastelands. Each of those players reckoned theirs was the best way and set out to impose it upon other peoples, or failing that put someone in power who could ‘look after’ their interests. The Cold War was WWIII if you were living in one of those locations. And now we are in a WWIV where the Euro-Russian-US format is being challenged, and like all wars we are not prepared for its mix of selected bits of nationalism/religious making a toxicity.
    History is not done with any of us.
    Sorry about that length….


    • beetleypete

      No problem at all with the length of your comment, WBH. It was very interesting, as well as apposite. If it had been a blog post, I would have re-blogged it!
      As always, your insight, opinion, and comment, is very much appreciated.
      Regards, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Woebegone but Hopeful

        Thank you.
        There’s something about this neck of the woods in WP…it encourages discussion (an extinct commodity on other social media outlets).
        Going back to the subject matter…meanwhile the innocents are dying by the scores…


    • beetleypete

      I don’t post that often here, but my intention has always been to encourage debate, whether for or against.
      Thanks very much for being a part of a very small community at redflagflying!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. democratizemoney

    Someone famous said the first causality of the fog of war is the battle plan. I submit the first causality of the truth or reason is the motive (profit, for example) of those reporting on wars, or should I say, speculating on wars. I do think you have nailed the media reports on this one, Pete.


    • beetleypete

      I think that was tried – and failed – a few times with Assad, Eddy.
      They think it’s better to help the factions destroy the country, and each other, before coming in to pick up what’s left.
      They have been proved wrong though, many times now.
      Cheers, Pete.


  4. Doug's BoomerRants

    You know, Pete.. perceptions (over reality) sometimes can be a game changer. Trump is going to be in the mix and there’s some world views that suggest a basic fear of the unexpected from him… or that he will just plow into the fray, where ever that fray is. My point here… him being president just might blunder into some solution in Syria (at least as it relates to U.S. involvement), not directly any cause of his own, of course. Hope springs eternal.


    • beetleypete

      You could well be right, Doug. Nobody can be sure how Trump will react to the current situation at the moment. Let’s hope that if he does something, it turns out to be something good, rather than something off-the-wall.
      Best wishes, Pete.


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