15 December 2016

Blame game starts as Aleppo’s rebels fall

By Jeremy Bowen
BBC Middle East editor
The scene at the Security Council in New York on Tuesday afternoon was worth thousands of words about the failure of diplomacy in Syria.
Let's not forget that these were top diplomats talking about the gravest humanitarian emergency of our time and the most dangerous crisis in the world's most unstable region.
The UN's founders wanted the horse-shoe desks in the chamber of the Security Council to be the heart of global diplomacy.
Instead, in a blizzard of bitter criticism and recrimination, the assembled representatives of the world's most powerful countries demonstrated why the international response to a crisis like the one in Syria will always be paralysed when the permanent members of the Security Council are in deadlock.

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US Ambassador Samantha Power, who made her name with a memorable book about genocide, compared what was happening in Aleppo to other scenes of slaughter "that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica and, now, Aleppo".
No journalist or diplomat has been able so far to investigate what is happening in Aleppo. But the reports coming from the city, if true, are horrifying.

Ambassador Power asked Syria and its allies Russia and Iran a series of questions: "Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify?"
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was scornful, accusing Ms Power of speaking "as if she was Mother Theresa".
He told her to remember the record of the United States, suggesting that she had no right to the moral high ground. Ambassador Churkin said he had no information about reports of mass arrests and unlawful killing in Aleppo.
The collapse of rebel resistance in Aleppo does not mean the end of the war in Syria. The war will change shape, and will continue.
Anti-Assad rebels, of varying ideological hues, still control substantial territory in Syria. The jihadists of the so-called Islamic State hold a big chunk of the country, and took advantage of the distraction of Aleppo to recapture parts of Palmyra, the ancient city in the desert from which they were ejected earlier in the year.

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