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The East Aleppo Syndrome 

Aleppo

While the major powers who were supervising the jihadists in East Aleppo pretend to take interest in the fate of the inhabitants of the city – so as to exfiltrate their own soldiers – no-one seems to understand the drama that these Syrians have endured.

Contrary to Western declarations, they have not suffered from the bombing so much as they have from the occupation of foreign jihadists and the reign of their «sharia». Some citizens suffer from a serious psychotic problem, the East Aleppo Syndrome.

After four and a half years of war, the population of East Aleppo was liberated by the Syrian Arab Army, with help from Hezbollah, Russia and Iran. This victory was greeted with joy by the majority of the 120,000 inhabitants freed and documented by the State. But only the majority.

Strangely, although Syria is offering them food, health care and temporary housing, certain inhabitants of East Aleppo declare that they «do not trust the State».

What are they afraid of? They have not been arrested, and are, on the contrary, being welcomed as children of the homeland who have long been prisoners of the enemy.

It’s as if they had forgotten the freedom they enjoyed before the «Arab Spring». And as if nothing had happened over the last four years, they recite the discourse of Al-Jazeera in 2011. They claim that the Republic is a dictatorship, that it tortures children, that it massacres Sunnis, etc.

For the first time, we are observing, at the level of a city, a psychological phenomenon that is already well-known at the individual scale.

Just as a beaten child or wife will sometimes defend the cruel father or husband and justify his behaviour, so certain inhabitants of East Aleppo are now using the language of the jihadists who were oppressing them.

In 1973, a Swedish psychiatrist, Nils Bejerot, analysed the shock imposed on the clients of a bank who were held hostage by criminals during an armed attack. The affair became a nightmare.

Two policemen were wounded, one of them seriously. Prime Minister Olof Palme attempted to reason with the criminals who were threatening to kill their prisoners. Under terrible pressure, the hostages chose not to revolt, but to try to accommodate their captors in order to escape probable death.

As the situation wore on, they ended up by speaking the same language as the criminals. They attempted to dissuade the police from making an assault, and one of the women actually fell in love with one of the criminals.

This is what came to be known as the «Stockholm Syndrome», from the name of the city where the events took place.

Finally, the police used anaesthetic gas, and managed to arrest the bandits and save the hostages. Although their emprisonment had lasted only six days, the hostages suffered from this syndrome to the point where they refused to give testimony during the trial which followed, and the young woman continued her relationship with the bandit during his incarceration.

Last year, clinical psychologist Saverio Tomasella demonstrated that the «Stockholm Syndrome» is «the mark of an extremely serious invasion of the inner life of the human being who has directly, and powerlessly, experienced the theft of his or her subjective identity».

We should therefore not believe that the few inhabitants of East Aleppo who are suffering from this syndrome will quickly reconnect with the real world. We should on the contrary offer them total security and once again show great patience. Even though we must first offer help to our soldiers and all those who resisted, these civilians are, above all, our compatriots.

About the author: Thierry Meyssan

French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

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