Here is my question. Given that Syrian government forces, backed by Russian airpower, are currently advancing into rebel-held eastern Aleppo (and it is not clear who these rebels actually are), which is the more humane response? Is it for the US, the EU, the UK – or whoever – to call for a new ceasefire, to promise more weapons, even to dispatch (more) special forces to help those we still like to call “moderate” opposition forces on the ground? Or is it – brutal and heartless though this undoubtedly is – to leave well alone and let the inevitable happen sooner rather than later?
Which response is more likely to curtail the death and destruction? Which is the more likely to save what remains of Syria’s second city and its inhabitants? Which has the better chance of ending Syria’s civil war? Which – Europeans, but also Lebanese, Jordanians and Turks, might ask selfishly – is more likely to stem, or even reverse, the flow of refugees?
The answer should be obvious. Any or all elements of the first option will only prolong Aleppo’s agony. More to the point, it would appear that the United States, if not the EU and the UK, has already chosen the second option, but prefers not to admit it for the time being. As to when the decision was taken? A guess would be that President Obama conceded victory in Syria the moment Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump. Knowing that Trump saw no US interest in the Syria conflict, the outgoing administration may well have decided that Assad was going to prevail and that trying to impede it would only add to the bloodshed.