Still no end in sight
The European Union and other US allies have directly blamed the Bashar-Al Assad regime for this monstrosity.
In an apparent response to the deadly chemical attack that killed dozens of people in the rebel-held Idlib province of Syria, the United States military recently carried out a targeted missile strike against Syrian government forces. Described as the "toughest direct action" by Washington so far, the strike has risked retaliation from Russia and Iran, who have been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's biggest allies in the ongoing civil war against US-backed rebel forces and the Islamic State. On Friday, Moscow called it an "aggression against a sovereign state", and said it was a violation of international law that would significantly hurt US-Russia ties.
This is a correct assertion. In the absence of a UN resolution, the Trump administration has no authority to attack the Syrian government. In the run-up to the US Presidential elections, Trump had unequivocally derided America's military involvement in the Middle East, and if elected to power, promised that he would pursue a "non-interventionist" policy in foreign affairs with the focus on "America First". In a series of tweets between May and September 2013, while a serious debate was raging on the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, he had offered unsolicited advice to his predecessor Barack Obama against doing anything. The heartbreaking images of young children suffering from the gas attack apparently changed his position this time around. What the recent US-led air strike in Syria indicates is that Trump has completely junked his original plan. It is not clear yet whether the Syrian government forces had indeed carried out the attack in Khan Sheikhoun, located in the volatile Idlib province.
The European Union and other US allies have directly blamed the Bashar-Al Assad regime for this monstrosity. Moscow, however, said that the atrocity in Khan Sheikhoun was the result of a Syrian government airstrike on a rebel chemical munitions depot. If the US's claims are correct, then this chemical attack represents not only a major war crime but a serious violation of a significant international agreement, in which both the United States and Russia had agreed to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles after the horrific 2013 sarin gas attack in Damascus that killed hundreds. How did the Assad regime get their hands on this new stockpile of chemical weapons? What real evidence do Washington and their allies have against the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons? Before any independent investigation into these claims, Washington thought it wise to launch air strikes. The Trump administration did not even find it fit to receive approval neither from the US Congress before embarking on this misguided exercise. What was the purpose of the strike? Was Assad a threat to America's domestic security? How does this achieve peace in Syria? Washington has issued no credible answers to these questions. The belief that such military intervention is expected to fulfil humanitarian goals is a lie perpetuated by the Washington establishment to further the wishes of the American war machine. In a scathing column, Daniel Larison, senior editor at The American Conservative magazine, writes:
We also know that once so-called "limited" interventions begin, they often do not stay "limited." The war on ISIS began initially as a defensive response to a threat inside Iraq, but has since expanded into Syria and beyond. Once the U.S. makes the mistake of attacking the Syrian government, the clamour to "finish the job" will grow louder. And there are always unintended consequences in war, some of which none of us will have expected at the beginning, so it is possible that there are even greater dangers from taking such action that we don't yet appreciate.
For a country that has suffered six years of a brutal civil war, the scope for "greater dangers" emanating from the Trump administration's misguided policy is frightening. There seems to be no end in sight for the Syrian people. It seems as if there is only more pain and suffering to follow.