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World View: Syria Blocks Humanitarian Aid to Aleppo

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Syria blocks humanitarian aid to Aleppo
  • Report: Turkey will build ‘residential cities’ in Syria buffer zone

Syria blocks humanitarian aid to Aleppo

Aleppo on Wednesday (CNN)
Aleppo on Wednesday (CNN)

The “good news” today about the Syria ceasefire, based on reports by correspondents on the scene interviewed on the BBC and RFI, is that while there’s no real ceasefire, the amount of violence has decreased, and also that the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has temporarily stopped bombing hospitals and schools.

The “bad news” is that nobody believes that the ceasefire will last for long, and everybody on all sides expects it to collapse any day. The ceasefire deal was reached between the US and Russia. None of the belligerents in the war on any side has endorsed the deal.

The epicenter of the ceasefire’s failure is Castello Road, the highway into east Aleppo, where the people, including many women and children, have been starving because of a siege by al-Assad’s military forces. A critical part of the ceasefire deal is that the UN has to be able to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of east Aleppo.

The UN has 40 trucks full of food, medicine and other humanitarian aid ready to go. But after four days, the trucks are stuck on the Turkey-Syria border, unable to move because Castello Road is too dangerous to travel, and because Syria has not given permission.

UN officials have been scathingly critical of Syria for not permitting the humanitarian aid to be delivered. According to Jan Egeland, chairman of the Syrian humanitarian task force:

We could go today. We’re not… The permits have not been given. We hope to go tomorrow, to eastern Aleppo.

Not a single permit is in the hands of our people.

Since 2011, there have been other attempts at humanitarian deliveries, some of which have been approved by the Syrian regime. However, the deliveries have all been held up Syrian troops roadblocks. At these roadblocks, the Syrian troops would pick through the humanitarian aid and remove much of it, leaving little for the intended recipients.

In this case, the United Nations is insisting that Syrian troops will not be permitted to harass the truck convoys and confiscate the food.

United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said the Russia has agreed to allow humanitarian aid, but the Syrian regime is blocking it:

Those facilitation letters, final permission for the U.N. to actually reach those areas (needing aid), have not been received. That’s a fact. It is particularly regrettable because normally during these days we are losing time. These are days which we should have used for convoys to move with the permit to go because there is no fighting.

The Russian federation is agreeing with us about this, so are the two co-chairs (U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov). This is something that requires to take place immediately.

My guess is that the only reason that al-Assad approved this humanitarian delivery plan in the first place is because his army is desperate and confiscating the UN aid would help the army.

Four days ago, I gave a list of reasons why it would fail, and all of those reasons are coming true.

Al-Assad himself quickly rejected the ceasefire, saying, “We as a nation… are delivering a message that the Syrian state is determined to recover all regions from the terrorists and restore security, infrastructure, and everything else that was destroyed in both human and material aspects.”

Both al-Assad and his opposition see the battle of Aleppo as the turning point of the war. Al-Assad’s siege of Aleppo is starving the people, and it has been well-publicized that he believes that if he can force the opposition in Aleppo to surrender, then it will be a fatal blow for the entire war. If he is unable to force the opposition in Aleppo to surrender, it will be a sign that he’s lost the war.

So I was surprised that al-Assad agreed to the Aleppo humanitarian delivery at all, since it strikes at the heart of his principal objective, and would end the siege. However, the new development that al-Assad is blocking the humanitarian deliveries, or that if approved they will be confiscated by his army, makes perfect sense.

The only thing that can change this dynamic is for Russia to find a way to force al-Assad to comply. That seems unlikely, but we’ll have to wait and see. CNN and Washington Post and Reuters

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Report: Turkey will build ‘residential cities’ in Syria buffer zone

It has now been almost a month since Turkey began the invasion of northern Syria known as ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’. Turkey achieved a quick victory by driving the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) to leave Syria’s border city of Jarablus.

Since then, Turkey has been rebuilding Jarablus, providing water and electricity for the hundreds of Syrian refugees returning to the region. Electricity will be provided by a three-kilometer underground power line from the Turkish city of Karkamis, and water will be supplied by using power generators to divert water from the city’s wells into the water network. In one day earlier this week, around 1,700 Syrian refugees in Turkey have returned to Jarablus and the surrounding area.

Ever since millions of Syrian refugees started pouring into Turkey, Turkey has been lobbying to build a “buffer zone” in northern Syria, to provide a place where Syrian refugees can go rather than cross the border into Turkey. However, the international community has opposed the idea, fearing that it would create additional conflict.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli announced that Turkey has started implementing a plan for a buffer zone in northern Syria, and would start building “new residential cities” in Syrian areas recently liberated from ISIS by “Operation Euphrates Shield.” Turkey is currently hosting 2.7 million Syrian refugees, and the objective is to place them in fully equipped residential areas that Turkey was planning to build.

Turkish officials hope to get approval from the United Nations Security Council to create the buffer zone, but it seems possible that Turkey will go ahead with its plans with or without Security Council approval.

Daily Sabah (8-Sep) and Asharq Al-Awsat (London)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Aleppo, Bashar al-Assad, Castello Road, Jan Egeland, Staffan de Mistura, Russia, Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey, Jarablus, Karkamis, Nurettin Canikli, residential cities, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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