When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

Why The War In Syria Is Far From Over

After the fall of Aleppo, various alliances of convenience will be put to the test, as the scenario suddenly gets more complicated for both Damascus and Moscow.

A pro-government Syrian soldier prepares ammunition in Aleppo.
A pro-government Syrian soldier prepares ammunition in Aleppo.
Isabelle Lasserre

-Analysis-

It had long been anticipated, but the fall of Aleppo still marks a decisive turning point in the Syrian war. It basically eliminates the opposition's ability to pose a military challenge or position itself as a political alternative. And it puts Bashar al-Assad solidly back on track. Supported by Russia and Iran, he has a new lease on political life, at least in the medium term.

But what the fall of Aleppo clearly is not, is the end of the war. It just marks the beginning of a new phase. The Syrian government will now, without a doubt, focus on securing its territorial gains but also on retaking, by force, the regions of the so-called "useful Syria" that still escape its control.

In the meantime, the Geneva peace process could well be swept away. David Petraeus told the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Manama Dialogue in Bahrein, last weekend that it was "very late in the day indeed," to find a political solution. The American general, who was in charge of pacifying northern Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion, did not exclude a partitioning of Syria as a possible solution.

But the country's fragmentation won't necessarily bring peace and stability. The recapture of Palmyra by ISIS on Sunday is a timely reminder of that. It's a setback for the regime and for Russia, which had driven ISIS out of the ancient city in March, and it proves that the jihadists are resourceful. It's one of the laws of war: it is often more difficult to hold a city than to capture it.

The fall of Aleppo, coming after a long agony to which the international community — and especially Muslim countries — have turned a blind eye, could lead the rebels, sickened by this abandonment, to radicalize and join the ranks of the jihadist forces: either ISIS or the former al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch.

Raqqa remains

While the international coalition is hopeful it can recapture Mosul, ISIS" "capital city" in Iraq, it hasn't yet really attacked Raqqa, the terrorist group's Syrian stronghold, which remains both a retreat and a stepping stone — confirmation that the jihadists largely still have free rein in Syria.

Assad and Putin last year — Photo: Kremlin

Assad's ability to retake control of Syria is far from established, even with the help of his Russian and Iranian godfathers. In all wars, abuses and violent acts committed by the enemy provoke a radicalization. "Even if the regime captures the whole territory, the opposition's violence against the government and its desire for revenge will only grow," a Syrian opposition member said during the same Bahrein conference where Patraeus spoke. "Even if it wins the war, this authority will have no legitimacy to govern the people. The international community waited for Aleppo to fall, thinking they'd be rid of the problem. That won't be the case."

The coming new stage of the Syrian war will also test the fragile Russia-Turkey alliance. Having materialized in Syria with eased tensions between Damascus and Ankara, the time will eventually come to deal with the Kurdish question. "The Syrian war is made of three circles: international, regional and Syrian," a diplomat warns. "One can't solve the third circle without solving the other two first, especially the disagreements between Russia and the United States, as well as between Iran and Saudi Arabia."

So far, Russia has been dictating the military scenario in the Syrian conflict. But the complexity of the crisis, the entanglement of regional interests and the multiplication of those global players involved in the conflict make finding a unilateral "solution" — like Moscow did in ending the war in Chechnya — much less likely.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

Mongolia, How The "Switch To Austerity” Sparked A National Uprising

The Asian country is experiencing record inflation and soaring food costs as imports dry up due to the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Protesters gathered in April outside the Government Palace in SukhbaatarSquare, Ulaanbaatar, to demand lawmakers stop the increasing costs of basic goods.

Nansalmaa Oyunchimeg, Myagmarsuren Battur

ULAANBAATAR — In the shadows of an immense statue of Chinggis Khaan, the founder of the Mongol empire, thousands gather. They stand outside the Government Palace to demand officials remedy the ever-increasing cost of living.

A young demonstrator holds up a mirror, asking if Mongolian government officials can bear to look themselves in the face, while others chant “Do your job” during the two-day dissent in April. The protest signals a breaking point for citizens who struggle to keep up with rising costs. They accuse the government of neglecting its duty to remedy the situation and forcing people to consider fleeing the country.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ