The Syrian Army and opposition forces ramp up for fierce Aleppo battle

The battle for Aleppo continues as the Syrian government sends reinforcements and the opposition prepares stockpiles of ammunition and medical supplies. Syrian forces have been pounding Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital and largest city, using heavy artillery, helicopter gunfire, and fighter jets, as government troops head toward the city from Hama and the Turkish border. Military ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

The battle for Aleppo continues as the Syrian government sends reinforcements and the opposition prepares stockpiles of ammunition and medical supplies. Syrian forces have been pounding Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital and largest city, using heavy artillery, helicopter gunfire, and fighter jets, as government troops head toward the city from Hama and the Turkish border. Military experts believe the government is concentrating troops in Aleppo and Damascus, which is still under fire, to quell the rebellion in the two major cities while leaving other areas under opposition control. While opposition forces have held ground, it is unlikely they will be able to match a full assault from government troops. According to opposition activist Talal al-Mayhani, "They lack the strategic support and weaponry." Meanwhile, the United States and some Arab and Western countries are working to use Syria's highest-ranking defector, Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, to help facilitate a political transition in Syria. Tlass said, "I will cooperate with every honorable person who wants to rebuild Syria, be it the National Council or the (rebel) Free Syria Army." Additionally, the United States has convinced Russia to cut back its arms shipments to the Syrian regime, including repaired helicopters.

Headlines  

The World Bank reported the recent growth in the Palestinian economy is unsustainable. It had been propped up by foreign assistance, and needs an increase in trade and private investment. Egyptian officials have announced that the make-up of the new government will be finalized by next week. Iran announced new currency restrictions on Wednesday. Meanwhile, an Iranian and Indian shipping joint venture is near collapse due to limitations from international sanctions.  Yemen is on track to join the World Trade Organization as early as the end of 2012 after a deal with Ukraine.

The battle for Aleppo continues as the Syrian government sends reinforcements and the opposition prepares stockpiles of ammunition and medical supplies. Syrian forces have been pounding Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital and largest city, using heavy artillery, helicopter gunfire, and fighter jets, as government troops head toward the city from Hama and the Turkish border. Military experts believe the government is concentrating troops in Aleppo and Damascus, which is still under fire, to quell the rebellion in the two major cities while leaving other areas under opposition control. While opposition forces have held ground, it is unlikely they will be able to match a full assault from government troops. According to opposition activist Talal al-Mayhani, "They lack the strategic support and weaponry." Meanwhile, the United States and some Arab and Western countries are working to use Syria’s highest-ranking defector, Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, to help facilitate a political transition in Syria. Tlass said, "I will cooperate with every honorable person who wants to rebuild Syria, be it the National Council or the (rebel) Free Syria Army." Additionally, the United States has convinced Russia to cut back its arms shipments to the Syrian regime, including repaired helicopters.

Headlines  

  • The World Bank reported the recent growth in the Palestinian economy is unsustainable. It had been propped up by foreign assistance, and needs an increase in trade and private investment.
  • Egyptian officials have announced that the make-up of the new government will be finalized by next week.
  • Iran announced new currency restrictions on Wednesday. Meanwhile, an Iranian and Indian shipping joint venture is near collapse due to limitations from international sanctions. 
  • Yemen is on track to join the World Trade Organization as early as the end of 2012 after a deal with Ukraine.

Arguments & Analysis 

Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay‘ (Dani Dayan, The New York Times)

"We aim to expand the existing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and create new ones. This is not – as it is often portrayed – a theological adventure but is rather a combination of inalienable rights and realpolitik… Our presence in all of Judea and Samaria – not just in the so-called settlement blocs – is an irreversible fact. Trying to stop settlement expansion is futile, and neglecting this fact in diplomatic talks will not change the reality on the ground; it only makes the negotiations more likely to fail…If the international community relinquished its vain attempts to attain the unattainable two-state solution, and replaced them with intense efforts to improve and maintain the current reality on the ground, it would be even better. The settlements of Judea and Samaria are not the problem – they are part of the solution."

We Are Fed Up! The power of a new generation of Sudanese youth activists‘ (Anonymous, OpenDemocracy)

"The movement is representative of today’s discontented Sudanese youth, who are "fed up" not only with the NCP’s brutal rule but also with the politics of the traditional opposition groups and parties. These parties – such as the National Umma Party, the Communist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party, among others – are highly sectarian in nature and dominated by an older generation of male politicians and activists. It is the failure of these parties to mount viable or effective resistance to the NCP throughout its 23 years of dictatorship that has prompted the rise of Girifna and other youth groups that have also sprung up in its wake."

The ‘day after’ in Syria‘ (David Ignatius, The Washington Post)

"It is time for Washington to emphasize what the United States can do, rather than what it can’t, in Syria. U.S. policy is caught between two imperatives: President Bashar al-Assad must go, and the killing must stop. But while Assad’s government will probably fall, it is also a near-certainty that the killing will continue – with the United States and its allies trying to limit the collateral damage. The Obama administration should try to prevent the humanitarian crisis from spreading to other countries, even as it helps plan the reconstruction of Syria."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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