US attack on Syria – a sceptical decision

Tuesday, 2017-04-11 11:10:22
 Font Size:     |        Print

US Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS Porter (DDG 78), conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, which US Defence Department said, was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017. (Photo courtesy: US Navy/via Reuters)
 Font Size:     |  

NDO – An unexpected decision made by the US President, Donald Trump, to launch rockets targeting the Syrian military base, has upset recent analyses on US’s strategy in the Middle East nation. The Pentagon's first direct military intervention in Syria raged scepticism that "chemical weapons" could once again be used as a "card". The move has even caused a divide within the US and is also a blow to Russian-US relations in the fight against terrorism.

Although there has been no evidence to date of chemical perpetrators killing nearly 100 civilians in Syria’s Idlib Province, the case has become a "pretext" for the US president to order to "rain" cruise missiles on the military base of the Syrian government.

This direct military intervention was announced shortly after Trump announced his change of view on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that the overthrow of Assad was no longer a US priority as Washington was focused on fighting the Islamic State (IS). However, right after the missile strike, the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that peace could not be achieved if Assad continued to hold the Syrian presidency and ousting him now was US's priority.

The sudden change of mind of the Trump-administration has surprised not only the countries involved in the Syrian conflict, but also resulted in controversy inside the US administration. White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said that the US has prepared for further military intervention in Syria if necessary. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, affirmed that the US viewpoint has not changed; Washington's priority is to defeat IS and the fate of Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.

Unequivocal statements by US officials concern lawmakers about the lack of clarity in the White House policy as well as the US strategy for the future of the Syrian president. Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, expressed scepticism about Tillerson’s strategic efficiency. Top Democratic senators said that Trump is not competent enough to overtake Congress by issuing dozens of missiles aimed at Syria, even calling his unilateral decision a wrongdoing. Republican Senator, Rand Paul, also said that suspect chemical weapon use in Syria did not affect US national interests as Trump had commented.

The surprise US-led intervention in Syria is being seen as a blow to Russian-US relations, the two nations supporting the two rivalries in Syria, and even resulting in a confrontation between the two powers. Although the two countries are shaking hands in the fight against the common enemy IS in Syria, conflicts in interest make the relationship between Russia and the US fraught with scepticism.

In its first response to the US-led missile strike in Syria, Russia announced a suspension of an airborne security agreement with the US, designed to avoid the risk of collision between the two sides’ aircraft in Syrian airspace. Russia also committed to strengthen Syrian anti-aircraft capabilities.

In addition, after strongly criticising the US missile strike of violating international law, Russia and Iran warned that Washington has crossed a "red line". The joint command centre for Russian, Iranian and allied militias forces in support of the Assad administration, said that it would respond to any new acts of aggression.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that the US had made a strategic mistake and insisted that Teheran would not renounce Syria. Iran also said that the advance against Syria was seen as a ready-to-attack message to countries considered "a threat" by the US, not excluding Iran.

A Palestinian journalist in the UK has described the US offensive as a new tragedy that threatens the stability of the region. This is also a reminder to the US of the allegations and lies associated with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which have never been found and proven to be non-existent.

This is also the general public's suspicion about the possibility that chemical weapons might be used as a pretext for military intervention in Syria, as US-backed insurgents are weaker than Russian-backed government troops. If this is true, there are plenty of analytical ideas that it is hard to avoid the Russian-American confrontation in the on-going proxy war in Syria.

It is not clear what the US secretary of State would say at meetings with Russian officials in Moscow today, but it is not easy for diplomats of both sides to cool down tension with reference to the Syrian issue. Tillerson revealed that part of the discussions he would have, arriving in Moscow, would be to call on the Russian Government to fulfil its pledged obligation to guarantee the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. He said he would ask his Russian counterpart to explain why Moscow could not fulfil this obligation.

Many analysts said that the US missile strike on Syria's military base added complexity to the crisis in the Middle East country, while increasing the risk of militarisation in the region. Although many US allies have voiced their support for military action against the Syrian government, international opinion in general has argued that only a political solution can solve the complex conflict, as using force will only collapse all diplomatic efforts.