Aleppo, Big Red Car?
Big Red Car here on a glorious Texas sunshine fest. Ahhh, on Earth as it is in Texas!
So, the world is watching the death throes of Aleppo as the Russians and the Syrians of Bashar al-Assad destroy a modern city building by building. The Russians intend to level the eastern half of the city and destroy it using bunker busting bombs against hospitals in the process. This is destruction of the ghastly quality of the Allied efforts against Germany (well-deserved, mind you) in World War II. It is brutal, barbaric, horrific, real, and happening right now.
How did this happen, Big Red Car?
Aleppo was once the capital of the largest Syrian political subdivision. Now, the capital is Damascus.
Aleppo was the largest city in Syria before the Civil War broke out, amongst the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It was on the Silk Road (a terminus) and thrived until the building of the Suez Canal whereafter commerce moved by water.
The city is cut in half. The forces of the government (the Assad government) hold the west and the east is held by the rebels, many of which are supported by the United States. The US supported and encouraged these rebels as part of its misguided “regime change” strategy but did it halfheartedly and thus we have a mess.
For the last two years, since the Russians have jumped in to assist the Syrians, it has been the scene of continuous, bloody conflict.
Russia in Syria
Recall that the Russians held a client state relationship with both Egypt and Syria which gave rise to the 1973 Yom Kippur War wherein they both attacked Israel in an unprovoked invasion.
The Syrians attacked in a massive tank assault through the Golan while the Egyptians (in a brilliant feat of combat engineering) crossed the Suez Canal and attacked the Israelis through the desert, the Negev.
The Golan became a tank battle of gargantuan proportions in which the outnumbered Israelis used unparalleled courage, superior gunnery, and maneuver to ultimately defeat a substantially larger force. The Syrians should have wiped the Israelis out.
In the desert, the Israelis were surprised by the Egyptian anti-aircraft (Russian SAMs) which almost blew them out of the skies leaving their tank forces to fight against the Egyptians without controlling the skies for some period of time. The Egyptians unveiled excellent anti-tank weapons making a man with a rocket equal to a tank. A very good trade, indeed.
It was a close call but the Israelis finally rallied and defeated both armies in a very, very, very close call which motivated Golda Meir (Prime Minister) and Moshe Dayan (Defense Minister) to arm and unmask their nuclear rockets. They were resigned to launching a nuclear attack against Damascus as a final defense of Israel which had lost most of its tanks in the Golan. Only America’s immediate resupply allowed the Israelis to prevail. (Ahhh, the days when the US took sides and acted like an ally.)
At the eleventh hour, when the Egyptians were on the verge of defeat, the Russians threatened to send six airborne divisions into the conflict to intervene. The Americans and the Israelis called their bluff. [Paratroopers against tanks? Favor the tanks, y’all.]
Thereafter, the Russians were ejected from Egypt in a brilliant bit of diplomacy by Henry Kissinger but Syria stayed in the Russian fold, though with a very bloody lip and a growing anger against the Russians who they felt failed them in the Yom Kippur War.
The Russians have had a leased naval facility in Syria from before the Yom Kippur War. It is located at Tartus and has two operational floating piers which can refuel, rearm, refit, maintain Russian vessels.
It is too small for big Russian vessels or Russia’s single aircraft carrier. Still, it is a warm water refuge and it allows the Russians to patrol the Med without having to retreat as far as the Crimea for maintenance. It is a big pain in the strategic ass of NATO.
Russia in Syria Today
Today, the Russians — Putin — have gone all in to support the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad (son of Hafez al-Assad who ruled Syria from 1970 to 2000).
The Russians have been able to build a new Axis of Evil rolling into bed with Syria, Iran, Iraq (which is becoming an Iranian colony with the absence of American influence), Hamas, Hezbollah. Look for Turkey, a NATO member, to be in play, shortly.
The Russians are trying out all of their new weapon systems in much the same way that Hitler did during the Spanish Civil War prior to World War II. The Russians have routinely fired naval launched cruise missiles, as an example. They have also deployed gobs of artillery and air power.
Today, they are using horrific bunker buster bombs to attack the eastern portion of Aleppo where the rebels are holed up. A “bunker buster” is a bomb which is capable of penetrating as much as six meters of hardened concrete before detonating. The Americans have a full array of such weapons while the Russians have been late to the party. They are testing theirs in Aleppo.
To give you an idea of how sophisticated these bombs can be, they can be rigged to sense how many floors they have penetrated and set to explode only when they encounter a void within the structure. This is some very bad shit.
The rebels against which the Russians and the Syrians are warring are those who the US has supported in the past as an element of its regime change objective to rid the world of Bashar al-Assad. Needless to say, it is not working.
The rebels are not moving forward anywhere and it is only a matter of time until Aleppo is blown from the face of the earth, the rebels have no place to hide, and the Russians/Syrians prevail.
Aleppo, The Ceasefire
The United States tried to broker a cease fire with the Russians (and the Syrians but let’s be clear here, the Russians are the ones calling the shots). The Russians pretended to cooperate but used the time to move Syrian and Russian forces into better positions from which to deliver the coup de grace to the Aleppo rebels.
Both the President and Secretary of State Kerry have given the Russians a tongue lashing but Putin doesn’t respond well to being denied entry to Disneyland or tongue lashings.
The Americans publicly pulled out of the negotiations and then called Putin up for a dinner date thereafter leaving him a little bewildered, perhaps, but not changing anything on his dance card. The Russians continue to bomb the rebel strongholds into dust.
Here’s the big thing — the Russians told the Americans to go to Hell.
The Americans keep mumbling about “no fly zones” and “refugee safe zones” but that isn’t going to happen.
The Americans have air assets in the region (bombing ISIS) and the Russians are quite capable of blowing our planes from the sky if we try to intervene in Aleppo. This is how regional wars start. This is some very dangerous stuff. This is a reflection of how the Russians regard America.
The Chance for a Bigger War
There is nothing as odd as our Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President’s record of war. Since before and after receiving the Peace Prize, President Obama has kept us continuously at war. Huh?
Yes, dear reader, our Peace Prize winner has delivered a continuous stream of war. When he got out of Iraq, he created even more war by the manner in which he failed to obtain a SOFA (status of forces agreement, which would have allowed American forces to remain in the country). When he was receiving the prize, he was getting ready to “surge” 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan.
During his tenure, he has thrown Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen into the insatiable maw of war either directly or by our feckless foreign policy which draws imaginary red lines, erases them, tries to negotiate with no leverage, and uses Disneyland tickets as foreign policy.
Meanwhile, the Russians have eaten the Crimea, engaged in a violent war in the Ukraine, taken off the gloves in Syria, and have emerged as the “go to” guys for the bad boys in the Middle East.
WTF, Big Red Car? Bottom line it, BRC
Dear reader, here’s the bottom line. The Bashar al-Assad regime will take Aleppo. They will kill all the US supported rebels. The Russians will have a substantial foothold in the region. Syria will become a Russian colony and the cooperation of Russian, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey (perhaps), Hamas, Hezbollah will soon be looking for its next meal.
There is a very real chance, the Russians will use the proximity of the US and Russian forces to test American resolve in a little regional shooting war. They may also decide to even the score with Israel.
This is what happens when you have a feckless, weak foreign policy which is propounded by incompetent leaders.
This is a very, very dangerous time in the history of the world.
It gets worse?
Yes, dear reader, it does. The Obama administration has not only driven the world into war after war, it has also lorded over the contraction of the US military to pre-WWII levels.
This compounds the danger. We are shrinking when we should be expanding.
Good luck to all of us. God, please spare Aleppo.