We Know What’s Happening in Syria

 

Russian bombing is prompting a mass exodus of terrified Syrians from Aleppo to the Turkish border. Credible estimates suggest 70,000 have fled; they’re the lucky ones: Those who remain are apt to be starved to death. The Syrian army and allied militias, including Iranian militias, will soon cut rebel-held zones of Aleppo off from Turkish supply lines. Russian airstrikes have been hitting villages north of Aleppo on the road to Turkey. Aleppo is on the verge of encirclement, which means hundreds of thousands of souls will be unable to escape. What we’re about to watch live, if we wish to, will probably be the largest siege since the Second World War.

The news that the Syrian government is exterminating detainees is on the front page of The New York Times today. You can read the details here. At some point the world will issue a teary apology to Syrians and there will be memorials to the Syrians and lots of children will hear about the terrible first half of the 21st century, and everyone will ask how this could have happened. If anyone ever says, “We didn’t know what was happening to them,” tell them: Shut up. We did.

There are now at least 2.5 million refugees from Syria in Turkey. Angela Merkel has been in Ankara to plead for Turkish help in reducing the influx of refugees to Europe. The EU has promised to give Turkey $3.3 billion if it can somehow make the refugees stop coming. In the past 48 hours, 35,000 Syrians have arrived at the Oncupinar gate at the Turkish border. Turkey has given refuge to civilians fleeing Syria throughout the war, but it’s come under very heavy pressure from the United States and Europe to seal off its border entirely. The refugee camp on the Turkish side of the Oncupinar gate has been largely shut for nearly a year. New arrivals have been sent to camps on the Syrian side, which Turkey claims are safe, for now. Turkish aid agencies are delivering humanitarian aid to these camps. Erdoğan has sworn that “If needed, we will let those brothers in.”

Another boatload of refugees drowned in the Aegean yesterday, including eleven children. This is now almost-daily news.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psYg06pj1do

The Turkish deputy prime minister is warning that in a worst-case scenario, 600,000 will escape from Aleppo and wind up on the Turkish border.

And it’s like a bad joke: Just as every EU member state is doing its utmost to seal its borders so better to keep Syrian refugees out, Frederica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, has called on Ankara to let them in. Turkey, she’s insisting sonorously, “has a moral if not legal duty to provide protection to these people.”

The Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders (the Netherlands now holds the EU presidency), joined in the moralizing: “I look at these images of people standing at the Turkish border and I just wanted to underline the message people who are in humanitarian need should be allowed in.”

And the UN is joining the chorus: Turkey, it says, must open its borders to desperate Syrian refugees fleeing Aleppo, “in line with its international obligations to protect people fleeing conflict or persecution.”

I’m stunned by the moral blindness. The Turkish government has insisted — from the start, to its own very uncertain citizens — that Turkey has a moral duty to admit Syrian refugees. So I simply don’t know who Mogherini and Koenders are trying to persuade. Turkey closed its borders because Europe and the US pressured it to do so — chiefly because Europe doesn’t seem to be able to keep its own citizens from joining ISIS or turning into Nazis. And now Europeans are lecturing Turks about their moral and legal obligation to admit refugees?

Perhaps they should be trying to convince Europeans, instead? Or Americans?

There are 151 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Manfred Arcane Member
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    They are fellow Muslims, at least.

    Why don’t we reward Turkey for its humanitarianism by granting them some of Syria’s territory, recognized as such by the EU and US?  That’s what I would do if POTUS.  And back up Turkey militarily if Assad made a fuss.

    • #1
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: And back up Turkey militarily if Assad made a fuss.

    That means direct US-Russian war. We’re already involved in a proxy war with Russia: You’re suggesting we make it a hot one?

    • #2
  3. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: And back up Turkey militarily if Assad made a fuss.

    That means direct US-Russian war. We’re already involved in a proxy war with Russia: You’re suggesting we make it a hot one?

    Do you see a way out of the situation detailed in the OP that doesn’t entail a hot war?

    • #3
  4. Nick Stuart Member
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:lots of children will hear about the terrible first half of the 21st century, and everyone will ask how this could have happened.

    Only one of the many things we are going to have to apologize to posterity for. Probably not the most egregious.

    Erdoğan has sworn that “If needed, we will let those brothers in.”

    You believe him?

    Turkey closed its borders because Europe and the US pressured it to do so

    Maybe if Turkey actually kept the refugees in Syria Turkey [edited about 4 hours after the original comment, I meant to say Turkey, sorry].

    If you have a solution for the Syrian refugee crisis that doesn’t involve:

    • US involvement in military operations
    • The Islamization of Europe
    • Admitting tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of unvetted Muslims to the United States who will refuse to assimilate and immediately undertake to turn whatever communities they land in into little Zenobias, and Aleppos.
    • The US borrowing billions of dollars from China to throw money at the problem

    It’d be great to hear it.

    • #4
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    BrentB67:

    Do you see a way out of the situation detailed in the OP that doesn’t entail a hot war?

    I don’t think so. Looks to me that we’ve been checkmated. All we can do is set an example of letting refugees in. As Turkey did with Jewish refugees during the Second World War. And of course, we should.

    • #5
  6. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    BrentB67:

    Do you see a way out of the situation detailed in the OP that doesn’t entail a hot war?

    I don’t think so. Looks to me that we’ve been checkmated. All we can do is set an example of letting refugees in. As Turkey did with Jewish refugees during the Second World War. And of course, we should.

    If we do that, how does that make a solution? It seems we’d be surrendering Syria and western Iraq to the seemingly perpetual civil war, adding to the havoc in Europe, and creating havoc here.

    • #6
  7. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    BrentB67:

    Do you see a way out of the situation detailed in the OP that doesn’t entail a hot war?

    I don’t think so. Looks to me that we’ve been checkmated. All we can do is set an example of letting refugees in. As Turkey did with Jewish refugees during the Second World War. And of course, we should.

    I also agree. I don’t see a way out of this without the casualties and destruction of a hot war or the casualties of the refugees.

    • #7
  8. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Nick Stuart:

    Erdoğan has sworn that “If needed, we will let those brothers in.”

    You believe him?

    Yes. Turkey has admitted 2.5 million refugees so far.

    Turkey closed its borders because Europe and the US pressured it to do so

    Maybe if Turkey actually kept the refugees in Syria.

    They will be killed if they can’t escape, so I don’t see why you’d want this.

    If you have a solution for the Syrian refugee crisis that doesn’t involve:

    • US involvement in military operations
    • The Islamization of Europe

    Europe isn’t being Islamized. This is utter nonsense.

    • Admitting tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of unvetted Muslims to the United States who will refuse to assimilate and immediately undertake to turn whatever communities they land in into little Zenobias, and Aleppos.
    • The US borrowing billions of dollars from China to throw money at the problem

    It’d be great to hear it.

    We should be quickly vetting and admitting as many refugees as we can, and putting immense pressure on others to do the same. There’s nothing about Syrians that naturally turns any city they live in into the hell Aleppo is now. Aleppo was a glorious city before the war.

    • #8
  9. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    Claire, what do you think about what happened in Cologne?

    • #9
  10. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Claire, if we armed these refugees will they fight for their security, country, freedom?

    • #10
  11. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Judithann Campbell:Claire, what do you think about what happened in Cologne?

    I think the police screwed up, and I figure Carnival (which is happening now) will proceed smoothly. So far the number of sexual assaults is exactly the same as last year.

    • #11
  12. Manfred Arcane Member
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: And back up Turkey militarily if Assad made a fuss.

    That means direct US-Russian war. We’re already involved in a proxy war with Russia: You’re suggesting we make it a hot one?

    You need to elaborate.

    A) We are not in a proxy war with Russia.

    B) Where we locate the territory can be adjusted to fit the conditions there.  It doesn’t have to be cheek by jowl with Tartus or Latakia, it can be halfway towards Kurdistan.

    C) And, you need to start adjusting your worldview a bit, young lady.  Russia does not want to tangle with the US, no way, no how.  They are scared [expletive] of our military (not our POTUS, however).  All they want are there bases there – and this proposal does not threaten that.

    • #12
  13. Manfred Arcane Member
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    BrentB67:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: And back up Turkey militarily if Assad made a fuss.

    That means direct US-Russian war. We’re already involved in a proxy war with Russia: You’re suggesting we make it a hot one?

    Do you see a way out of the situation detailed in the OP that doesn’t entail a hot war?

    I gave my recommendations.  Reward Turkey for taking in refugees, and also help stabilize that area by granting Turkey permanent ownership of parts of northern Syria, then put Patriot, THAAD and US airpower in Turkey, paint every gosh darn Russian plane that gets 100 m off the ground with the powerful radars from the most lethal airdefense system ever devised, backed by massive naval power, plus an airwing or two (winging it here – you are the expert) in the Brit airbase on Cyprus.  Locate some forces around the Bosporus to make it clear to Putin that he will be bottled up in the Black Sea FOREVER if he so much as lifts a finger against Turkey.

    This is the EASIEST confrontation to win in the HISTORY of the WORLD.  If you know anything about the extreme, glaring, obvious, vulnerability of Russian forces on the west coast of Asia Minor surrounded by NATO forces infinitely more numerous, and with US and NATO help, infinitely more capable than Russia can bring to bear.  Did I make myself clear this time?  Enough of this amateur hour analysis.

    • #13
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane:You need to elaborate.

    A) We are not in a proxy war with Russia.

    Go with the Wikipedia definition of a proxy war: |A proxy war is a conflict between two nations where neither country directly engages the other.[1] While this can encompass a breadth of armed confrontation, its core definition hinges on two separate powers utilizing external strife to somehow attack the interests or territorial holdings of the other. This frequently involves both countries fighting their opponent’s allies, or assisting their allies in fighting their opponent.” That’s exactly what’s happening in Syria.

    B) Where we locate the territory can be adjusted to fit the conditions there. It doesn’t have to be cheek by jowl with Tartus or Latakia, it can be halfway towards Kurdistan.

    Where we locate what territory, after doing what?

    C) And, you need to start adjusting your worldview a bit, young lady. Russia does not want to tangle with the US, no way, no how.

    How do you know? I judge by its actions, and I’d say Russia’s surprisingly willing to run remarkable risks. Whether this means they want to “tangle,” I don’t know.

    They are scared sh_less of our military (not our POTUS, however). All they want are there bases there – and this proposal does not threaten that.

    How do you know what they want there?

    • #14
  15. Manfred Arcane Member
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Nick Stuart:

    Erdoğan has sworn that “If needed, we will let those brothers in.”

    You believe him?

    Yes. Turkey has admitted 2.5 million refugees so far.

    Turkey closed its borders because Europe and the US pressured it to do so

    Maybe if Turkey actually kept the refugees in Syria.

    They will be killed if they can’t escape, so I don’t see why you’d want this.

    If you have a solution for the Syrian refugee crisis that doesn’t involve:

    • US involvement in military operations
    • The Islamization of Europe

    Europe isn’t being Islamized. This is utter nonsense.

    • Admitting tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of unvetted Muslims to the United States who will refuse to assimilate and immediately undertake to turn whatever communities they land in into little Zenobias, and Aleppos.
    • The US borrowing billions of dollars from China to throw money at the problem

    It’d be great to hear it.

    We should be quickly vetting and admitting as many refugees as we can, and putting immense pressure on others to do the same. There’s nothing about Syrians that naturally turns any city they live in into the hell Aleppo is now. …

    We should not let any more Muslims into the US, period.  Turkey should take them in, with a grant of land in Syria to pay them back, with humanitarian aid to boot.

    Invite more Muslims into the US, are you kidding me?  That’s is totally insane.

    • #15
  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: This is the EASIEST confrontation to win in the HISTORY of the WORLD.

    You’re saying a direct confrontation with Russia would be the easiest confrontation to win in the history of the world?

    Seriously?

    • #16
  17. Manfred Arcane Member
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane:You need to elaborate.

    A) We are not in a proxy war with Russia.

    …. While this can encompass a breadth of armed confrontation, its core definition hinges on two separate powers utilizing external strife to somehow attack the interests or territorial holdings of the other. This frequently involves both countries fighting their opponent’s allies, or assisting their allies in fighting their opponent.” That’s exactly what’s happening in Syria.

    B) Where we locate the territory can be adjusted to fit the conditions there. It doesn’t have to be cheek by jowl with Tartus or Latakia, it can be halfway towards Kurdistan.

    Where we locate what territory, after doing what?

    C) …Russia does not want to tangle with the US, no way, no how.

    How do you know? I judge by its actions, and I’d say Russia’s surprisingly willing to run remarkable risks. Whether this means they want to “tangle,” I don’t know.

    They are scared sh_less of our military (not our POTUS, however). All they want are there bases there – and this proposal does not threaten that.

    How do you know what they want there?

    We are not in any kind of “war” with Russia, because if we were, they would be losing, which they are not currently.

    I know one thing beyond a peradventure of a doubt.  They    do    not    want    to     tangle    with     the     US     military.    We     would     cut     them     to       shreds.

    • #17
  18. Manfred Arcane Member
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Manfred Arcane: This is the EASIEST confrontation to win in the HISTORY of the WORLD.

    You’re saying a direct confrontation with Russia would be the easiest confrontation to win in the history of the world?

    Seriously?

    Their bases in Syria could be wiped out in a week, and they would never get them back – ever.  Do you not understand how vulnerable those bases are there?  Turkey could descend on that place and have it cleaned out of any Russians as fast as Russia could take over Estonia.  Why do you have such a faint heart?  You really are not ready to go up against the likes of Putin with your current attitude.

    PS. They smell weakness, the Russians do.  Like dogs can, they smell fear.

    • #18
  19. Austin Murrey Member
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy.

    • #19
  20. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    BrentB67:Claire, if we armed these refugees will they fight for their security, country, freedom?

    The Russians have killed the ones we’ve trained and armed. That’s why they’re fleeing. It’s too late to be asking this.

    • #20
  21. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Austin Murrey:Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy.

    A far away place of which we know nothing. Yep.

    • #21
  22. Redneck Desi Member
    Redneck Desi
    @RedneckDesi

    The current Obama plan is

    1. Keep Assad in power in an effort to defeat ISIS
    2. Allow Assad to exterminate his opposition, ISIS or not
    3. Allow Russian hegemony over Syria
    4. Take in untold numbers of Muslim refugees, of which a small but real portion are hardened jihadis into Europe.

    There are no good alternatives, but I would think that American interests are preventing 1-3, and as not allowing #4.

    • #22
  23. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Redneck Desi: The current Obama plan is

    How do you know?

    • #23
  24. Austin Murrey Member
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Austin Murrey:Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy.

    A far away place of which we know nothing. Yep.

    I get awfully tired of virtue signalling.

    Claire, there is nothing you or anyone else publicly shaming the rest of us will accept that will solve this problem.

    The only thing which will solve the problem is total war, until the bad actors are so terrified of the consequences that they dare not act badly.

    No one will accept total war or anything even close to it so don’t start keening about how everyone else needs to do something so you can feel better about yourself.

    • #24
  25. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    I’m increasingly concerned — as well as amazed — at just how many conflicts are contained in the same war. For ground wars, there’s:

    1. The Islamic State vs. Iraq.
    2. The Islamic State vs. Syria (a very different war, it seems, rather than a different front of the sam war).
    3. The Assad regime versus everyone in their territory.

    There are also two air wars involved:

    1. France, America, and Arab allies against the Islamic State
    2. Russia versus everyone not Assad.

    There are also proxy wars between:

    1. Turkey vs. Kurdish militias/terrorists.
    2. The Iranians vs. the Islamic State or anyone sufficiently Sunni tot heir taste, largely through Shia Iraqi militias.
    3. Between Russia and Turkey over airspace and access through the Bosphorus.

    I’m likely missing at least one big one as well as a lot of nuance, but what a horrible mess. And while I don’t think it’s accurate to say that we had “won” the Iraq War by 2009, it’s also impossible to imagine this situation occurring if we hadn’t elected a president who promised to pull us out.

    • #25
  26. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I was under the impression that Merkel had promised that Germany was open to all refugees that found their way there.  The US should do its part and bus all refugees to Germany, That way Merkel can live up to her promise.

    • #26
  27. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Manfred Arcane: PS. They smell weakness, the Russians do. Like dogs can, they smell fear.

    So your theory is that we’d whoop them in a conventional war — because in principle we can — and they’re just bluffing when they say they’ll compensate for the disparity with tactical nukes.

    I’d say you’re probably right: They’re probably just bluffing.

    But I don’t know, for sure. You seem willing to bet. Why? Just a general principles, “No one could be that crazy” thing?

    Putin’s like Assad: If he loses, he dies. Gives him a lot of motivation to be really crazy.

    Say you’re right: What happens to Putin’s regime? What’s your plan for ensuring Russia doesn’t become a massive failed state? Have you planned for that at all?

    • #27
  28. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Fake John/Jane Galt:I was under the impression that Merkel had promised that Germany was open to all refugees that found their way there. The US should do its part and bus all refugees to Germany, That way Merkel can live up to her promise.

    I don’t understand this comment at all.

    • #28
  29. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Austin Murrey: Claire, there is nothing you or anyone else publicly shaming the rest of us will accept that will solve this problem.

    This is not true. Many people saved Jews during the Holocaust even if they were individually incapable of defeating Hitler. Every refugee who is not pushed back into the maw of hell is a human being. I’m not virtue signalling. I’m reminding you that there is genuinely such a thing as virtue. “No Refugees Here” is not the utterance of a virtuous person.

    • #29
  30. raycon and lindacon Member
    raycon and lindacon
    @rayconandlindacon

    The above discussion entirely disregards the Obama administration.  A Commander In Chief who’s only nuance is to “stand-down” is not irrelevant.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.