Gary Johnson, candidate for the presidency of the United States, responded to a question on MSNBC’s Morning Joe regarding what to do about Aleppo by asking, “What’s Aleppo?”
That may have been a gaffe for which Johnson will be ruthlessly lampooned on social media, but I’m not sure the other candidates have a much better understanding of the situation in Aleppo. And what they all fail to recognize is that Aleppo – Syria’s second city – is home to a large, ancient and diverse Christian population which needs protection. While the Christian population of 250,000 before the civil war has dwindled to an estimated 100,000, Aleppo remains home to nine bishops (two of whom were kidnapped in April 2013, presumably by the opposition, and not yet heard from, Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church).
What to do about Aleppo? End the violence. Demand that the warring factions stand down. The United States and Russia, together, have the ability to
implement a ceasefire, but Obama and Putin failed to reach an agreement this week when they met in a sidebar at the G20 conference. I cannot imagine what higher American foreign policy objective trumped ending the killing and protecting the Christians and other religious minorities in Aleppo.