Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson infamously failed to answer this question. With the ongoing humanitarian crisis taking place, we delve into why Aleppo has become the new battleground of Russia and the USA.
Aleppo is a major city in Syria. Prior to the ongoing Syrian Civil War, Aleppo was one of the most significant cities in the Middle East. It was the largest city in Syria and the third largest in the now extinct Ottoman Empire behind only Constantinople (now Istanbul) and Cairo. It truly is a historic city, filled with multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as the honorary title of “Islams Cultural Capital”.
The geographic location of the city is the primary reason why Aleppo has developed into such a crucial geopolitical centre. Located between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia (“Two rivers” referring to the Euphrates and Tigres) Aleppo is a major trade hub. The later development of the Silk Road, stretching from Aleppo in the west to China in the east. Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously habituated cities on the planet.
The modern decline of Aleppo traces its routes to the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869, which diverted trade away from the city because of the greater speed of water travel. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire expedited the decline of Aleppo. The border between Syria and Turkey was drawn very close to Aleppo, the nearest port cities on the Mediterranean were given to Turkey. This division between Aleppo and its local ports made its ancient trade routes unusable.
With the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 the city came out as strongly pro-government, with over 1.5 million demonstrators showing their support for President Bashur Al-Assad. In 2012 terrorists began targeting the cities security forces. In July of 2012 the anti-government rebel forces launched a direct attack on the city. These rebels captured the eastern half of the city while the Syrian Army held the western half. The city has been continuously bombed by both sides and house to house fighting has become common. A huge number of UNESCO World Heritage sites and other monuments have been damaged or destroyed during the fighting.
Since 2004 the population of the city has dropped from 2.1 million to 1.7 million largely as a result of the conflict.
More recently the US and Russia have begun strategic bombing of Syria in an unlikely gesture of friendship. Unfortunately, the two nations have had many disagreements over what constitutes a “rebel” and an “extremist”. Although both nations wish to see the end of terrorism, the Russia have a strong support of President Assad whereas the USA has given support to Rebels and Kurds. This basic disagreement over who the enemy is the base cause between the tensions.
In 2016 Russia began the strategic bombing of Syria against rebel positions. This broke the four-year stalemate and government forces broke through and surrounded rebel position leaving 250,000 people in a siege without adequate access to medicine, food or water. This Russian bombing goes against the agreement with the USA which said it would only strike “extremists”.
Both sides agreed to a truce in order for UN convoys to bring desperately needed food, water and medicine. Tragically, the convoys never reached the city as they were destroyed enroute. Russia and the USA have accused each other of bombing the convoy however explosive specialists believe Russia is the culprit. The city is currently still under siege in one of the worlds largest humanitarian crisis.
By: Tyler Kattler