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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

What is Aleppo??

On 8 September 2016, Libertarian candidate in the 2016 US Presidential elections Gary Johnson replied with the question "And what is Aleppo??" when a TV reporter asked Johnson what he would do - as a President - about the situation in Aleppo, Syria (video).

After reading this 13 December 2016 Independent article you may ask the same question: What is Aleppo?? Aleppo is a Sunni city in a Sunni country in which Al-Qaeda (or Sunni) "rebels" fight an alleged Alawite / Shia President. It's dangerous to label anyone as guilty or innocent. The ancient concept that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" does not apply in Aleppo.

For Christians, all Muslims are the same whether Shia or Sunni. We don't know the difference and we don't care. Yet, this difference is crucial in many Arab conflicts. In the most simplest of terms, the situation is as follows: Al-Qaeda - Sunni - Saudi Arabia & Turkey versus Hezbollah - Shia - Iran. The Arab conquest of Persia in 651 still defines Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Arab conflicts are often too complicated to understand in the West. Arab countries seldom interfere openly in Arab conflicts, apart from covert support to Al-Qaeda or Hezbollah. Turkey's intervention in Syria is very limited and also dualistic in nature (eg, Haaretzlink 2).

While editing this blog, the fallout of the Russian and Turkish involvement in Syria becomes clear: the Russian ambassador in Turkey was just assassinated (eg, WP). Moreover, Russia also still feels the backlash of the Chechen-Russian conflicts and the Soviet-Afghan war.

I think, feel and believe that Western involvement in Arab conflicts has caused more long-term harm than short-term relief. In the 20th century, unrestricted oil supply was probably enough reason to get involved. In the 21st century, fossil fuel importance has only been decreasing. Nowadays, there is lots of downside and little upside to get involved in Arab conflicts.

Arab conflicts are a minefield as Politics and Religion are intertwined. When we treat Arab conflicts as political conflicts then we are blamed for being anti-Islam. When we treat Arab conflicts as religious conflicts then we are blamed for apathy (or worse). It's a No Win situation. We will always be blamed for (non) interfering in Arab conflicts.

The exception to the above is the joint Arab-Western fight against ISIL (Wahhabi Sunni) as this group's long-term harm (eg, to Islam) is even worse than its short-term pain (eg, terrorism).

Hence, I favour Donald Trump's new realism that the “destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally come to an end” and that American soldiers will no longer be “fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting.” I also favour his view that “we will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with" (eg, Politico).

Aleppo citizens now face the consequences of relentless Islamic terrorism in Western societies. Empathy, guilt and shame have turned into blame towards Islam and Muslims. Frankly, I am full of doubt and find some relief in this Bertrand Russell quote: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

The Beatles - Help (1965) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone
Help!