Yesterday in Aleppo, on 15 December 2016, Syrian rebel forces championed by the United States of America surrendered to the Assad regime.
Aleppo’s fall is the most disastrous military and strategic setback for the Obama administration in two years. This, according to the Israeli intelligence news service, DEBKAfile. Obama's military disaster, it says, began in September 2015. That is when Russia stepped in and stepped up its military intervention in Syria's bloody war and rescued its President, Bashar al-Assad.
When Aleppo succumbed to the Russian-backed government army and its allies - Iran, Hezbollah and fellow Shiite militias - it did not fall alone. It also brought down the entire architecture of US-backed positions in northern Syria. Local groups trained and supported by the US, such as the Syrian Kurdish militia and the rebel Free Syrian Army, were the foundation, the bedrock, for US policy and interests in the conflict.
That foundation has crumbled.
The acknowledged overlords of northern Syria today are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who can claim the Aleppo victory.
For their part, Bashar Assad and Iran are reduced to playing second fiddle. Still, Iran remains a player. Its chief general, Qassem Soleimani, continues to commands pro-Iranian forces in the region.
But America? Divested of all its military assets in Syria, it has no real say in the next chapter of the horrific war only miles from Jerusalem.
Hence US Secretary of State John Kerry’s despairing appeal yesterday: “We can’t have another Srebrenica,” he said. The reference was to a Serbian slaughter of 8,000 Bosnian Serbs in 1985.
Kerry has toiled tirelessly for a diplomatic solution to the dreadful war is Syria, but his appeal has fallen on senses hardened by the many "Srebrenicas" perpetrated in more than five years of conflict.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers have been slaughtered – according to an unofficial estimate, up to a million - and many have been subjected to chemical warfare.
Neither Kerry or Obama or the USA can count on the Kremlin to relent. This means that, even after the last Syrian rebels and their families are out of Aleppo, the killing will go on.
Meanwhile, about 6,000 miles away (9300km) in Washington DC, the calamity in Aleppo is being dished up as a political tool.
One claim, heard Thursday, was that the “same Vladimir Putin” who sponsored the atrocities in Aleppo, also interfered in the US presidential election by sending hackers to influence the results in favor of Donald Trump.
The claim is touted by Obama administration spokesmen and the Democratic Party, whose candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election. It appears to be fodder for a Democratic party drive building up for the president-elect’s impeachment even before he is sworn in as president on 20 January 2017.
The Putin factor comes in handy for the latest tactic in a campaign that began the day after 8 November - election day in the USA. In the wake of Hilary Clinton's loss, and by extension Obama's too, this campaign intends to delegitimize Trump’s victory and negate his fitness to reach the White House.
While this is political in nature, it could have a serious, real-world impact. It has the potential to profoundly impact America’s future policy and its position as a world power.
How so? Because one purpose for delegitimizing President-elect Trump is to block his path for making a deal with Putin to resolve the Syrian conflict. The Obama administration has no wish to see the new President succeed where it failed for nearly six years.
For his part, Putin will have no qualms about capitalizing on Washington’s preoccupation with its internal power struggle. He will continue building up as many gains in Syria as he can before Donald Trump takes over on 20 January.
This morning in the USA, a radio interview featuring Obama, is set for broadcast. In it, he threatens retaliation of Russia's alleged efforts to influence the US presidential election.
What will that threat accomplish? It will provoke Putin to move faster and more determinedly in his grab for more assets in Syria. The bloodshed will go on.
This is an edited version of an article originally published by DEBKAfile at http://debka.com/article/25839/Russian-role-in-Aleppo%E2%80%99s-fall-impacts-US-politics. Because this edit of the original article is significant, the editor, Brian Schrauger, is listed as this report's co-author