I recommend you click on this very interesting article by Alastair Crooke in the Huffington Post about the sudden recent successes of the Russians in Aleppo, which he thinks mean victory for the government is imminent. Alastair Crooke used to work for M16, writes regularly for the Guardian and was Middle East adviser to Javier Solana, the EU's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, from 1997 to 2003.
Points from the article include:
Here is a reminder from the UN Human Rights Council of the regime's great cruelty. Rami Jarrah, an anti-regime activist, said on the World Service this morning that he estimated the Syrian regime has killed a hundred times more people than ISIS and that sounds very likely. Mr. Jarrah, by the way, was introduced on the BBC as a journalist, whereas he is very deeply committed to the rebels. This should have been pointed out, though it does not necessarily detract from what he said about the regime's undeniable war crimes.
If government forces, moving north, can make friendly contact with the Kurds in the northeast, almost all Nusra and allied rebel forces would be nearly surrounded. The insurgents would be caught in a cauldron with their backs to a lightly populated and forested territory.
The ISIS-controlled corridor, especially the Jarablus border crossing with Turkey, remains effectively open. Turkey has proclaimed this represents its "red line." Were this corridor to be closed by the Syrian Kurds, the Turks have indicated they could respond by invading Syria. The YPG say nonetheless, that they are contemplating just such a move.
...Syria seems to be heading not towards a "quagmire" as many western politicians have suggested, but rather to a clear military outcome. As one
knowledgable commentator noted, the negotiating table is not in Geneva. The true negotiations are taking place on the battlefields of Idlib and Aleppo -- and what has just been negotiated is the near encirclement of rebel forces into a cauldron.
I also expect Syria to soon again constitute a strong regional state. The meaning of this will be evidenced in a powerful, cohesive northern arc through the region -- and perhaps closer relations with Iraq. Correspondingly, certain Gulf states will find themselves eclipsed.
Here is an interesting account by Peter Oborne, whose decency always shines through what he writes, about Aleppo. He was there when the fortunes of war changed. What has happened to Aleppo is a very sad story, but now suddenly there's good news for those previously besieged. The besiegers will become the besieged instead, if they do not flee very fast. The Christians, those left, now seem to be safe.
I am very pleased that the wonderful Hotel Baron, where I stayed in 2007, is intact and still open. Much else is destroyed.
The pro-EU Carnegie Institute has published an article saying Putin is creating refugees in order to topple Angela Merkel. I doubt that this was the main reason for the rout of the rebels in Aleppo, but I am sure he has the fortitude to bear her misfortunes.
She is quoted as saying
“We need to protect our external border because we want to keep Schengen. And if we can’t protect it, then this huge region of free movement, our internal market, which is the foundation of our prosperity, will be in danger, and we need to prevent that.”To which the writer adds
But one has to wonder if those political parties and movements opposed to giving refugees shelter actually care about Schengen—and, as a corollary, about the EU."I have to wonder whether political parties in favour of accepting a million more migrants actually care about Europe, as opposed to the EU. Suspending Schengen indefinitely along the migrant route is essential. There is no reason for this to endanger the single market.
As for Putin, if he did succeed in toppling Mrs Merkel I think everyone would gain.
Here is the head of the German spy agency saying ISIS is sending fighters to Europe disguised as refugees. I imagine this does not surprise even my most guileless reader, but I remember all the people who patiently or impatiently explained last year via social media that the migrants were not terrorists but fleeing terror. Soft-hearted, soft-headed people like that are the biggest problem in Europe.
Fortunately, Eastern Europeans are hard-headed. They see Europe as primarily Christian, as Christendom. This article from Politico suggests that the Visegrad Four countries may eventually leave the EU rather than accept migrants en masse. I doubt it personally.
Three intelligent and in one case very influential Romanians have told me recently that the only hope for Europe is a victory for Le Pen. I wonder how many Romanians think so. I don't know, but a survey this week shows that a majority would vote for Vlad the Impaler were he standing for President.