Trump, Aleppo and Putin

In mid-October, when Angela Merkel was considering pushing through the EU additional economic sanctions against Russia in response to its commission of war crimes in Syria, Vladimir Putin announced a unillateral cessation of bombing of Aleppo and other targets in northern Syria.

After his telephone conversation with Donald Trump on November 14, Putin resumed Russian’s  onslaught against Aleppo, bombing hospitals and other civilian targets.

According to a Kremlin summary of the phone call, Putin said he was ready for “a dialogue of partnership with the new administration based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other”.

–Shaun Walker in Moscow and Julian Borger in Washington,”Putin stresses cooperation in first phone call with president-elect Trump; Trump looking forward to ‘strong and enduring relationship with Russia’;Kremlin says two leaders share ‘phenomenally similar’ foreign policy outlook, The Guardian, November 15, 2016 (7:20 GMT).

See “Putin calls Trump, is reassured, and resumes bombing in Syria,” The Trenchant Observer, November 15, 2016.

Following a long-established pattern, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Putin continued “negotiations” with Secretary of State John Kerry and the United States to establish a ceasefire, humanitarian corridors and humanitarian aid to the residents of rebel-held eastern Aleppo

Meanwhile the Russian bombing and combined attack with Syrian, Iranian, Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shia militias continued, mercilessly, until the remaining portions of rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo were subdued.  Hundreds of the young men who surrendered, with a Syrian promise if safe-conduct to other rebel-held area in Syria, have reportedly been executed.

Viewing these events together, its seems clear that Putin’s telephone conversation with president-elect Trump was interpreted by him as a green light for renewed Russian bombings and other war crimes in Aleppo.

Donald Trump, who at various times has dismissed U.S. generals and the U.S. intellgence community, as recently as last week, has in his campaign and since the November 8 elections uttered not one word of criticism of Putin or Russia.

It would stretch credulity to the breaking point to assume Trump gave any warning to Putin, in their telephone conversation on November 15, regarding Syria.

Trump has,through his silence, assumed moral responsibility for the resumption of Russian bombing and war crimes in Aleppo following his conversation with Putin.

A docile press, held at bay by Trump’s resolute refusal to hold a press conference, since July, has not asked Trump the burning question he must be asked and to which he must respond:

What do you have to say to Vladimir Putin, the American people and the world about Russia’s bombing of and commission of war crimes in Aleppo and Syria?

Does Trump have a view on the subject?

What is it?

We all have a right to know.

The Trenchan Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.