There is not enough soap in Aleppo — now unavailable because of the war — to wash away the responsibilities of the West and the post-truth narrative told about Syria in the last five years.
For the rest, it happened like in the wars in the former Yugoslavia: false captions were added to photos that in fact showed crimes were committed by all parties. So, in a newspaper photo showing a Muslim militiaman wearing an Afghan cap and holding three severed heads of enemies as a gory trophy, the caption said: “Atrocities of the Serbian militias.” He was actually one of the thousands of mujahideen who traveled from Afghanistan into Bosnia, thanks to the U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia. And the severed heads actually belonged to three Serb militiamen.
Now, the same thing is happening.
The frame was frozen on the Armenians, Kurds and Christians celebrating throughout Aleppo, while thousands of refugees were on their way to reach the west of the city. Meanwhile, the last civilians were stranded in the evacuation because they tried to flee together with the jihadist fighters. Deadly government and Russian air raids began again, and the “rebels” launched rockets that killed six people in the Bustan al Qasr neighborhood, which had recently been recaptured by the loyalists.
Today, the true picture of the Syrian stalemate shows the buses, bearing government insignia, which were supposed to complete the last evacuation, are parked and empty in Al Ramusa. The groups of civilians that approached them backed off again.
Faced with the tragedy of Aleppo, disfigured forever in its horizon of ruins, the Western media seem to enjoy shouting “massacre of civilians,” almost as if they’d wish for it.
But there have been hundreds of massacres of civilians amid the general indifference, if it is true that there were more than 100,000 dead in Aleppo and more than 200,000 in the country now torn apart, with 1 million wounded and about 7 million refugees displaced abroad and internally. This is the tragedy that should stand before our eyes, which are anything but innocent.
Why did the European countries, the United States with Turkey and the petromonarchies in the Gulf (led by Saudi Arabia) attempt an indirect military intervention with international coalitions? Like the “Friends of Syria,” a coalition that supplied arms, funding and training from the NATO military bases in neighboring Turkey to destabilize Syria, exactly as they had already successfully done in Gaddafi’s Libya.
Certainly, Assad’s crackdown against the internal revolt that had broken out, which was not a “Spring” movement, immediately turned protesters into an armed militia where Islamist jihadism played a central role (by the Salafis, the Al-Nusra Al Qaeda, and other organizations related to ISIS). The “democratic opposition,” which was also armed, had a marginal presence. A whole new jihadist political area spread rapidly from the Libyan sanctuaries across the region to create an “Islamic state” in the middle of Syria and in two-thirds of Iraq, thanks to the disasters caused by three American wars.
This Western strategic tragedy, a notable blunder of both the right and the left, is a shadow that it will be difficult to remove.
Nonetheless, as highlighted recently by Paolo Mieli in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera — there is the squander of political and journalistic Manichaeism. There were bombardments by the “good” guys, like the ones by the U.S. that did not exactly launch candy all over Mosul — that was another massacre of civilians — and on the other hand the air raids by the “bad” enemy, Putin’s Russia. It should be remembered that Russia returned to Syria for the first time in 2013, when it prevented the U.S. attack after an alleged nerve gas raid by the government, along with Pope Francis’ request. Independent research and The New Yorker proved the nerve gas attack was invented.
This is the same Russia that in recent days sent a letter to Assad which called for the end of war “against all violence,” somehow criticizing his methods but also crediting him as a counterpart; then, at the end of 2015, Putin met with Obama in “the fireplace summit” at the White House, faced with the failure of Western military strategy and the explosion of the Turkish boil, which revealed direct reports and trafficking in arms and oil between the Atlantic Sultan Erdogan and the Islamic State.
Now east Aleppo is freed from jihadist militias, and the few democratic opposition fighters left have been coordinated with the Salafists and al-Qaeda, after yet another failure of the United States to organize them — as admitted by the CIA itself.
But the war is not over, not by a long shot. With Turkey committed to massacre the Kurds and to demolish the Rojava autonomy on its borders, and with ISIS still strong in Idlib and Raqqa, where all jihadists who escaped from Aleppo and those fleeing Iraq flock.
The new battle has begun with its aim the dangerous partition of Syria, the jihadist “way out.”
Who will suffer in this bloody mess? The civilians, who are fleeing in the millions. Who arrived in the heart of Europe, and Europe pushed them away. The civilians, who even now serve to prolong the battle of Aleppo.
But of course, it is politically incorrect to say that Aleppo is repeating the Mosul narrative: that civilians are kept as human shields. If they leave, the jihadist militants must also leave. This is the deal on the table, what the U.N. envoy Staffan De Mistura has been seeking for two months, appealing to the anti-Assad militias to abandon their positions under an evacuation supervised by the U.N.
We suggest this caption for the photos of this impasse: “This is the failure of the West’s humanitarian war that benefited Putin by giving him a hegemonic role in the area, allowing the new right of American national populism to stand as a guarantor of peace.”
The U.S. representative to the U.N. Samantha Power accused Russia, Iran and China of sponsoring barbarism and asking them if they “feel no shame.”
But shouldn’t the U.S. and European governments feel ashamed first for their infamous “friendship” with Syria?