Hopes that President Assad’s regime will eventually see its final days after the seizure of Aleppo by rebel forces have fallen through. Despite expectations voiced by Pentagon chief Leon Panetta that the fall of Aleppo would close a final chapter of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the battle for Syria’s most populous city has been won by government forces while the opposition had to acknowledge defeat. Experts say that it’s now up to the Syrian president to resolve the crisis and establish law and order.
Syria’s authorities and opposition, together with western analysts all expected the battle for Syria’s second largest city to be decisive. In case of success, rebel forces planned to seize neighboring Idlib and use it as a springboard for further military operations. Western press kept saying that seizure of Aleppo would provide the rebel forces with a renewed vigor and would force the regime to pack and leave. One of the journalists even compared the battle for Aleppo with the Battle of Stalingrad, and President Assad with Field-Marshal Paulus, who surrendered in the battle. The outcome of the battle for Aleppo turned out to be different from what western media had expected. Nevertheless, the defeat of the rebel forces in the battle for Aleppo does not mean that the regime has achieved a clear edge over the opposition, says Oriental Studies Professor Vladimir Isayev.
"The situation has not changed dramatically. During their earlier successes, rebel forces took control of a number of areas in Damascus. At present, government troops have success. The future will now depend on whether the opposition will be able to regroup to maximum effectiveness, whether it will be provided with more financial assistance from countries of the Gulf, the US, the EU, and Turkey, or it will succeed in passing through the de facto non-existing border between Turkey and Syria. At present, since all attempts at peace talks have failed, the Syrian representative in the UN is quite right to say that the situation calls for tougher measures. Under the circumstances, since the opposition is unwilling to join talks and is only concerned about organizing armed provocations against the regime, the only option is to resort to force."
The Syrian authorities have devised a specific plan of action, Oleg Fomin, co-Chairman of the Russian Committee for Solidarity with the People of Syria, told a Voice of Russia correspondent.
"The Syrian people will have to continue to defend cities and towns against terrorists and to get all concerned groups to sit down at the negotiating table. They will have to foster relations with Russia, China, Venezuela, and Cuba – countries that support them. Hopefully, the circle of the so-called ‘friends of Syria’ will expand as more nations favor Damascus’ stance over the destructive policies of neo-globalists who are set on crushing Syria and reinstating chaos in the Middle East."
Given that the population of Aleppo supports President Bashar al-Assad, it is the direct responsibility of the authorities to instill order in Aleppo by freeing it from militant groups. As it became clear after the battle, militants who fought in Aleppo included a large number of foreign mercenaries from Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Habitually ignoring this, Leon Panetta described Aleppo as one more instance of the Assad regime using violence against Syrian people. As it happens, there will be more speculation to this effect. All this is easy to explain given that rebel forces and their western allies hoped to have Aleppo as both a springboard for launching their offensives and a base for receiving foreign assistance. Now that they have lost it, they will have to look for a new one.