The cease-fire in Syria was shattered today when Russia mounted a massive bombing assault on the city of Aleppo. Included in the targeting were two supply centers for Syria’s non-partisan White Helmets, the rescuers that rush in to neighborhoods after an assault to attempt to save civilians trapped in the rubble.
This turn of events is being interpreted as a failure of foresight by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, but it was forecast as early as last week when the alliance led by the Russians bombed a UN relief convoy attempting to reach Aleppo, where nearly a quarter of a million people are attempting to survive a government siege.
The Syrian rebellion was triggered by a drought that forced rural settlers to the cities. The government of Bashar al-Assad ignored their plight, leading to protests that were met with government violence. Seeing parallels with recent events in Georgia and the Ukraine, the UN attempted to issue a proclamation rebuking al-Assad and demanding a negotiated end to hostilities, but the resolution was vetoed by Russia and China in the Security Council.
Despite this, the Syrian war was almost over last year with rebel forces ready to mount an assault on the capital, Damascus. Russia joined a government alliance including Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon. The three foreign governments are all united by a common purpose: erode US, Israeli and Saudi influence in the region.
But Putin’s Russia is not just thumbing its nose at the US, it’s also challenging the legitimacy and authority of the United Nations. Throughout, it has used its position on the Security Council to advance its own aims in the world, against the consensus of the body as a whole. So I think that our next step is obvious: the Security Council was recently expanded by adding additional states on a temporary basis. I think that now the US needs to work to establish procedures to remove members from the Security Council. Russia would be first on my list, and the recent assault on the relief convoy is sufficiently egregious that if established as a criterion for ejection, no other state should ever qualify.
As for Syria, al-Assad is obviously nothing more now than a Russian toadie. With the exception of Damascus, the nation is in a ruin. Even if, as he claims, the government manages to reclaim control of the land shown on the map as ‘Syria,’ the people of the nation will burn with hatred of him. He will never again be able to claim legitimately that he serves as their “president.”