By Dr Jan Best de Vries:
If the present-day province of Aleppo would have covered the same large area as that of the ancient realm of Yamkhad with its capital Aleppo, Yamkhad might have become again the future name of Syria after the deconstruction of this former, rather haphazard, mandate handed over to the French in 1919. In any case, since Aleppo – until October 2011 a culturally and economically flourishing town with an international atmosphere – has been systematically destroyed by the jets of the Arab Syrian Air Force, it should not be returned to (or restored under) any Arab regime in Damascus: to rebuild Aleppo is, for both old and new times’ sake, the responsibility of the civilized, international community. After giving up Kobane in advance, caring about Aleppo is the latest whim of Mr. Erdogan, who has justifiably been accused by Mr. Assad of helping IS, but unjustifiably of starting his own civil war in Syria. An Aleppo under Turkish instead of Arab supervision is not what the desperate inhabitants and the rest of the world are waiting for. As a free state, Aleppo would in the North be protected by the three democratic cantons of Rojava, inhabited by a Kurdish majority, but also by the members of many ethnic minorities who likewise in the people’s army of the YPG and YPJ and together with the Free Syrian Army have so courageously defended Kobane against IS.
To avoid any misunderstanding, a free state Aleppo should be a sovereign and independent republic and as such not fall under foreign domination of, for example, Russia, Iran or Hezbollah. It should not be a free state in the sense of only possessing autonomy within a larger nation-state as Syria pretends to be. It should be a sovereign republic in the sense of the Roman Republic, the libera res publica as it was called by the Roman historians. In the ancient times of Yamkhad, Aleppo had a direct access to the Mediterranean via its port Alalakh, the now inland-lying site Tell Atchana. Irony of fate has it that nowadays this site lies within a small piece of Turkey outside Anatolia; I don’t know precisely whether it was the French, English or Italians, or all of them together, who hadn’t the guts to defend it in 1919 against the war threaths of Atatürk, the secular predecessor of the islamist Mr. Erdogan. Anyway, not only the Alawite tribe of the present Arab Syrian regime should have the privilege of access to the Mediterranean after a political solution to this shameful, military conflict. In the next years to come it will undoubtedly be found in a reshufflement of the former, oil-centered French mandate Syria (next to that of Lebanon; this time, to be perfectly clear, without Hezbollah).
Dr. Jan Best de Vries is an archaeologist and historian, decipherer of the so-called Byblos Script from Aleppo and Alalakh (‘How to Decipher the Byblos Script’, Aspekt Publishers 2014, ISBN978-946-153-420-0)