Pity the poor people of Aleppo and Mosul. Pity the poor children. Our hearts go out to those who face the bombs and bullets, and try to survive in such war torn cities.
The west is rightly united in condemning the atrocities in Aleppo. The UK Foreign Office has made clear its fury, stating that “The actions of Assad and Russia are driving radicalisation and fuelling terrorism, not tackling it”. Many have protested to demand the West does more, and many MPs have spoken in the Commons of the need to relieve the pain.
The problem is what can the West do that can make the situation better? A much reviled but internationally recognised government in Syria has asked for Russian help. The area is now well armed by Syrian forces. President Obama has judged that any military intervention by a US led coalition would make the position worse so he is not proposing to try landing NATO troops or inserting more western warplanes and missiles into a highly explosive situation with all too many bombs already. Those the West would best protect might not welcome a full frontal war between the West and Assad, given the intensity of the violence that would require. Assad is able to exploit the unwillingness of the outgoing President to undertake more intense military action, and the delay before a new President. Mrs Clinton might be more belligerent.
Meanwhile the Iraqi government is seeking to evict ISIL from Mosul and the surrounding area by using substantial military force on the ground. Most agree that ISIL is a dangerous terrorist grouping with links to Al Qaeda affiliates. The problem is a military solution entails a lot of death and destruction. ISIL kill, maim and cow the civilian population, They may now take human shields and expose them to more risk as the Iraqi forces draw nearer. Let us hope that the action to recapture lost territory by the Iraqi forces does not lead to an ISIL inspired massacre.
There are no easy answers for this war torn and troubled part of the world. I Just thought I would give you, my readers, the chance to say your piece on these two conflicts. In the end these countries have to be stabilised by a political process. Governing forces have to emerge that can govern by laws and civil justice, not by force of arms. This still seems a long way off. Gaining military advantage for one side or the other does not necessarily speed a peace.