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A disgrace to the international community

Sollich Rainer Kommentarbild App
Rainer Sollich
September 28, 2016

The situation in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo is becoming all the more oppressive and dangerous. People have little hope of receiving international aid soon, fears DW's Rainer Sollich.

Syrien Aleppo Männer in Trümmern mit Säuglingen
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Alhalbi

Aleppo's old town was granted UNESCO world heritage status in 1986 and 20 years later, in 2006, the city was honored as a "Capital of Islamic Culture." That is all in the past. Now barbarism and not culture prevails in Aleppo. The fate of the Syrian city shamefully symbolizes the international community's failure to assist defenseless people in dire need of help. They have been completely abandoned. That is the opposite of culture. What is happening in Aleppo right now is a disgrace to the entire world!

Aleppo is being bombed, ground troops are advancing and entire residential areas have been flattened. Nobody is rushing to actively help the people. No one is intervening. No one is protecting some 100,000 children who UNICEF believes are in danger in the rebel-held part of the city alone. Residential districts, hospitals and even humanitarian aid convoys have apparently been targeted by bombs and not just hit accidentally. War crimes are obviously being committed there while the rest of the world watches. What's worse is that some countries are even taking part.

Putin is mainly responsible

Russia in particular must swallow this accusation. Moscow actively supports Bashar al-Assad in his attempt to regain control of the entire country. Aleppo plays a significant symbolic and strategic role. Now it is clear that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is mostly to blame for the people's suffering in Syria. In his pursuit of geostrategic power interests, he supports an unscrupulous and brutal dictator whose henchmen have slaughtered far more people in Syria than the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists.

Sollich Rainer Kommentarbild App
Rainer Sollich heads DW's online Arabic department

But the United States also has its share of responsibility. It has not taken rigorous action against Assad or IS. The half-hearted US policy has not only made the disastrous Russian intervention possible. It has also led to the fact that the country may become a battlefield for a proxy war in which Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are directly or indirectly involved for their own interests.

Image boost for extremists

The conflict has become more complex and difficult. The extremists on the rebel side have gained more power. They too do not care about human rights. Yet in many areas, they are the main military force that repels the regime's attacks on civilians. The fatal consequence is that people in Aleppo and elsewhere inevitably have the impression that they are better off in the hands of al Qaeda-affiliated forces like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the former Al-Nusra Front, than the United Nations or superpower USA.

And what is Europe doing? Europe has continued its undaunted diplomatic journey of ceasefires, humanitarian corridors and in the best case, peace negotiations. However, the attempts have often failed or rather, been scuppered. There are actually no alternatives right now. And thus, there is little reason for hope. The killing in Aleppo and all of Syria continues. Many people will attempt to flee to safety, especially to Europe. Who wouldn't do the same in that situation?

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