Sold by Erdogan to Bashar, Aleppo has fallen… or has been liberated… depending on the perspective.
A simple question of vocabulary, that does not change the fact that Bashar al-Assad and the Baathist government contradict the predictions, which most analysts had made since the beginning of the “Syrian spring”, in March 2011, more and more clearly – whilst those of some professionals on the ground, who had suggested that the regime still had many years of rule ahead, are confirmed.
Probably the Idlib governorate will be the next step of the re-conquest.
It is, apart from the region of ar-Raqqa (still at the hands of the Islamic State), the last bastion of opposition to the regime (mainly the al-Nosra Front), the last zone that is seriously defended by the rebels and which could fiercely resist the advance of the Syrian army and its Russian, Iranian and Shi’a allies.
Once this bastion will have fallen too – because there is no doubt it will fall; like it was the case for Homs and Aleppo, it is just a question of time – close to the entirety of “useful Syria” will again be under the control of the government of Damascus, which will quickly begin to clean out the few remaining pockets of rebel resistance, where what is left of the brigades of various Islamist movements will have joined forces with the rest of the Free Syrian Army, sometimes in good faith, sometimes because of not having a choice.
Then remains the Kurdish question… What will the Syrian regime do concerning the longing for autonomy of the three Kurdish cantons in the north of the country?
The Kurds… Today they are tacit allies of the regime against the Islamic State, but also against the al-Nosra Front and the remnants of the Free Syrian Army supported against them by Ankara, and they conquer the regions they claim, kilometre after kilometre, thereby creating their own Kurdistan, the hundred-year old dream that has come to life amongst the consecutive tumults of the “Arab spring”.
But tomorrow? When this situational alliance will not be of use anymore? When the Islamic State will be beaten – this too is only a matter of time (the case of Palmyra is symptomatic of the end of a reign, last startle; and is to be explained by the absence of operational troops in this corner of the desert, as all fighting power of the regime was concentrated on the re-conquest of Aleppo) – and when Bashar will have regained control over the entire country?
Will the Kurds of Syria have the power or the international support necessary to de facto impose and maintain their independence? Also given that it would be outside any UN-agreement (it is difficult to imagine Russia accept the amputation of its Syrian ally in the Security Council)…
Will we rather see a form of autonomy, within a frame of a federal Syria? But to what degree does the Baathist regime, attached to its conception of a unitary nation (even though it may be fictive), agree to such a composition, without seeing there a dangerous precedent and a threat to its existence in the long term?
Or will be witness the most simple and radical reasoning, an alliance between Assad and Erdogan, once again situational and of only the duration necessary to “deal with the problem” (or longer if Moscow agrees to it)? Would such an alliance proceed without hesitation to the crushing of the YPG militia, the little brothers of the PKK? Hard to imagine that the Kurds of Syria could resist those two powers joined together…
Only a few days ago I was discussing with some Turkish diplomats about this (who by the way were very worried by the totalitarian turn their country is taking). I asked them: “Why did your President abruptly cease to support al-Nosra in Aleppo and why did he stop supplying the rebels in with weapons to defend the city? He did not lift a finger to help them…”
One of them leaned over to me: “An agreement has been reached…”, he whispered into my ear.
– It is not really a secret anymore… Erdogan put pressure onto al-Nosra so that they pull out of Aleppo; in exchange, Assad and the Russians let our army maneuver against the Kurds in northern Syria … Giving and taking.
Erdogan and his hate for Kurds…
Erdogan and “his” post-averted coup Turkey; because there already was a Turkey of before the 15th of July and after…
“I am fine, but it is not the case of the country…” is what one of our correspondents in Istanbul wrote to me a few days ago. “Every day is worse than the previous one; and I will have to be very careful as of now.”
The Kemalist officers wanted to slow down the process; they involuntarily sped it up with the help of a people that went down onto the streets to stop them: the dictatorship is here now, and it came forward with giant’s steps!
At the same time…
The Egyptian dictatorship is keeping well, satisfied with its full prisons! Prisons in which torture is normal, like back in the old days, the international community turning a blind eye on them! Yeeeehaaa! The clans, factions, militias and other tribes have not ceased to create chaos in Libya, and to destroy the little infrastructure that what was left in the country. And as the liberticidal laws multiply in Tunisia, the Moroccan monarchy… Oh, well! Also torture in their prisons! You don’t change a winning team… and blessed Europe, smiles at the “model student” in questions of human rights (to which an informed facebooker would respond “LOL”).
At the same time, whilst the Syrian regime once again becomes unavoidable and the Islamic State crumbles little by little, whilst Iraq readies itself to destroy itself (torn up between other Kurds, other Shi’ites and Sunnis too…), the regional geo-policy reward is shared between the US, Russia, Turkey, Saudi-Arabia, who lost its war against shale gas, and Iran, being not as open as some may have (mis)understood…
An international ballet, still uncertain, that performs under the dazed eyes of the European Union, waiting-and-seeing, passive, depressive.
Oh wait… and what about Yemen?