Whether by habit, or tradition, the US presidential transition is the ideal time to deal with unfinished business. The handover from one administration to its successor offers tempting opportunities to create new facts on the ground in the Middle East.
Israel used the transition between George Bush and Barack Obama to launch Operation Cast Lead on Gaza which stopped two days before Obama’s inauguration on 20 January 2009. Russia is now using the transition from Obama to Trump to do the same in Aleppo.
Both sides in the Syrian civil war understand the significance of timing. The rebels foolishly depended on Hillary Clinton’s assurances to hang on until she came into power. They had no plan B for a Clinton defeat.
Conversely, the Russians understand that they have to finish off east Aleppo by the time Donald Trump is inaugurated. With the Old City fallen, the task is almost complete.