By James Osolo.
Before the conflict in Syria began Syria was one of the world’s best tourist destinations and Aleppo, its jewel, was the people’s favourite. They received millions of people annually who had come from all over the world to see the heritage sites, the beautiful scenery, the lovely artefacts and the rich culture of the people. In fact, Syria was making millions of dollars in income through tourism.
Looking at the City of Aleppo today not only traumatizes but also disturbs. How fast can glory get to gory, all thanks to the war!
So what really happened to the ancient city of Aleppo? Since the narrative changed, the estimated number of people, mostly women and children who have succumbed to the torturous war guzzlers is not only scary but also very disturbing. The city is destroyed and instead of tourists flocking the city, millions and millions of people are running away from the once treasured city. To say that the situation in Aleppo is bad is to underestimate the situation. Contrary to how others would wish to report it, the situation is simply traumatizing. Everything in Aleppo is a nightmare, everything, I mean .But what actually went wrong, where did this all start?
It all begun in July 2011 when a group of people who were tired of the decades ruling by the Assad family decided to go out in the street to protest and demand a regime change. What followed was unprecedented. The government (by Assad Family) deployed the military in every corner of the city to quell any ‘illegal’ protests, a move which led to the death of many innocent citizens, who were caught between the two warring sides.
This did not help at all, in fact, it fuelled the uprising. Many people came out in large numbers to protest the killings and the regime which many people had grown tired of. The war immediately escalated to a sectarian war where Assad was backed by the Shiite Muslims who surprisingly happens to be the minority against the Sunni Muslims who formed the opposition
And with that, the Free Syria army was formed and the opposition became stronger and within months they had eliminated the government loyalist out of the Aleppo city and for the first time ever Assad was on the defense. This, however, would not stop the war. It only managed to transform the war from bad to worse.
Five years down the line the war has just intensified with now many faction joining the war on either side. Currently there are 4 main factions fighting in Aleppo. There is the Syrian government Army backed by Russia and Iran, Free Syrian army backed by the United States and her allies, then there are the ISIS(Islamic State in Syria) the guys who find joy in beheading people. Lastly, there are also the Al Nusra Front backed by Al Qaeda
The most affected in this war are the civilian, the powerless women and children in Aleppo city. To understand this better I will quote Aldous Huxley” the most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individuals human beings and by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own
The war has led to massive destruction and loss of countless lives, thousands of people have died, millions have been displaced and the systems are broken. Social amenities such as s hospitals, schools are long gone and destroyed.
Most the different service providers who had chosen to remain in Aleppo despite the war have died after being found in crossfire or hit by airstrikes. Children can’t live a normal life and some of them are killed. Interventions such as those provided by United Nations and other Humanitarian Organizations are not spared either in this unfortunate war. United Nation had to stop the delivery of relief food when their trucks were bombed and most of their staff lost their lives
You can perhaps imagine the intensity of the war if it becomes a challenge for mother organizations like UN to access the place. The United States and Russia have been trying to broker a truce among the fighting factions but all these have fallen apart because of lack of trust among the parties involved. United Nations, as well has not been successful in negotiating for peace in this area. The citizens of Aleppo have therefore been left to fend for themselves and provide their ‘own security’ amidst the intertwining interests of different Super Powers manifested by joining different factions in this war.
The whole world has left Aleppo to burn, UN can’t make any meaningful resolution since both USA and Russia who are permanent members of its apex Decision making Organ (Security Council) are facing each other from different sides. United Nations, therefore is unlikely to resolve this conflict.
So, does it mean that all is lost? No, the only solution in Aleppo and the larger Syrian crisis is political, all the factions involved must sacrifice some of their demands to ensure that the citizens of Syria get the peace they deserve.
To begin with, Assad must go but when is the question, to be honest Assad leaving right now won’t be such a great idea. Having participated in the war and as well since they are the holders of instruments of power, there should be a transition process where the government of the day will broker an agreement with the opposition in a structured transition process.
And the rebels must stop fighting and support the transition process and a neutral individual must be given time to unite the country and lead the healing process. As per now ISIS is getting stronger each and every day in Syria since they are recruiting jihad fighters at a very fast rate and the earlier the parties unit and fight them together the better because they are spending a lot of time-fighting among themselves while the ISIS and AL-Qaeda-linked factions are getting stronger
The whole world and by that I mean Russia and the USA must come together and drop all their hard line stands and support a neutral transition because the people of Syria are tired, and enough people have died and more will die unless a solution is reached. Humanity, should be the only factor guiding the factions involved in the war.
Currently, the regime with the help of Russia has gained a lot of ground in Aleppo and it’s estimated that they now control about 70% of the area and it is just a matter of time before they have full control of the city. So yes Aleppo will fall soon but at what cost, how many people need to die before people become rational and accept that talking to each other is better than fighting each other.
The situation in Aleppo is dire, it’s like a nightmare that you want to wake up from very fast. The scenes are like a movie and indeed it’s sad that the war will continue unless something is done. A great hope that something will be done soon.
James Osolo is a Writers Guild Kenya International Affairs Correspondent based in Mombasa. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org