Only today, and as a new Turkish military operation looms, which may bring armed opposition factions closer to Aleppo, the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, remembers the “capital of industry.” He has deliberately ignored it for more than five years since regaining full “control” over it.
Bashar al-Assad performed Eid prayers at a mosque in the city. At the same time, the Turkish Defense Minister performed Eid prayers in the nearby Aleppo countryside.
The regime’s “achievements”, which required the presence of the highest pyramid of the “state”, point to the extent of the city’s neglect. Assad witnessed the launch of the work of only one group, out of five generating groups at the Aleppo thermal plant. They generated 200 megawatts, in a station that previously generated 1,025 megawatts. This required a year and a half of work, by an Iranian company.
The quantity the regime has celebrated is about 5% of the country’s electricity needs. While regime propaganda says that this amount will be allocated to Aleppo alone, insiders, including Fares al-Shihabi, a pro-regime industrialist and head of the city’s Chamber of Industry, say that they were promised only 50 megawatts. If Assad is right and grants 200 megawatts to the city, he will double the amount it gets now, and raise its total electricity supply to less than half of its actual needs. However, if Shihabi is right, it means that the city will get 250 megawatts out of the 900 megawatts it needs for electricity.
Aleppo, which is teeming with abandoned and destroyed industrial facilities, or which operates at half its capacity due to the scarcity and high price of fuel, has already suffered –as Assad said– greater “sabotage” than other governorates. If Assad attributes it to “terrorism” and the opposition attributes it to the “Assad and Russian” bombing that has destroyed the city and much of its countryside, the two interpretations have not given it the necessary effect to receive the “attention” of Assad. He is now visiting it, for the first time, despite his forces’ control of its eastern part since the end of 2016.
In order not to do injustice to the man, we do not know if Bashar al-Assad already has the power to change the reality of the city. His brother’s influence there has Iranian support. Almost everything in Aleppo has become Iranian, even the power plant, part of which Assad witnessed the rehabilitation of.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.