In an about turn on his campaign rhetoric, US President Trump ordered missile attack against Syria targeting an airbase in Homs. The avowed reason for this attack was alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad Govt. of Syria against civilians in Idlib province controlled by the rebel forces mainly Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra now renamed. Trump and his Admn. has flaunted this missile attack as a proof of his decisive action compared to Obama’s alleged dithering in face of such a situation in 2013.
In fact this action had little to do with any use of chemical weapons. It is born out of domestic compulsion where the ‘deep state’ and bipartisan leadership is mounting pressure on Trump, investigating links of his campaign with Russian Govt. His National Security Advisor has been forced to quit and the chairman of the Congressional committee has been forced to recuse himself. This investigation implies the alleged softness of Trump towards Russia. Acolytes of Obama Admn. and many top leaders of Democratic Party have mounting pressure on Trump to act against Syria. Trump has sought to parry these attacks by this missile attack.
That this attack had little to do with alleged use of chemical weapon by Govt. of Syria is corroborated by the fact that US Admn. has spurned the offer of UN investigation into this attack. Pictures of children definitely show their suffering but not the perpetrators. By rejecting UN investigation into the attack, US Admn. demonstrated that it was bent on a demonstrative action against Russian ally. That UN investigation was not a mere tactic to allow Russia and Syria to gain time, it is grounded in the facts of 2013 case when US, UK and France along with their Mideast allies had blamed Assad Govt. for using Sarin gas against civilians in Ghouta. The chemical analysis done in UK showed that the gas used in Ghouta was different from the one possessed by Syrian Govt. Moreover, UN agencies themselves corroborated that the same gas was used by rebel forces against Syrian soldiers in a later attack. With this clear evidence, US Admn. thought that its agreement for investigation will rob Trump of demonstrating a muscular response. Moreover, after 2013 incident, there was an agreement between Russia and USA to take out the chemical weapons from Syria. The same was done under the auspices of UN and UN body on chemical weapons vouched that there were no chemical weapons left with Syrian Govt.
Even if it is conceded that it had either hidden some or manufactured new ones later it also does not stand to reason why Assad Govt. should resort to use of chemical weapons when the war is Syria is turning in its favour including capture of whole of Aleppo. It is noteworthy that Syrian Govt. with Russian intervention is sending rebels from different areas near Damascus and Aleppo to Idlib which is under the control of rebel forces. Why would Syria block its own efforts to clear the areas close to capital? Al Nusra (now Fateh Al-Sham) has been opposing shifting of rebels to Idlib. The narrative of Russia and Syria that Syrian bombing on a warehouse released the poisonous gas stored by rebel forces, whether true or not, is not baseless as UN itself had alleged use of poisonous gas by rebel forces against Syrian Army. By turning itself against any impartial investigation, US Admn. has sought to stop detailed enquiry into the role of rebel forces particularly Feteh Al Sham, as US Admn. and senior politicians and officials find it difficult to sell the idea of collaborating with Al-Qaeda affiliate.
By bombing Syria, Trump has also sought to unite US allies in the Middle-East. It is this failure which had resulted in deepening the fissures in US led camp in the region. Trump Admn. wishes to draw Turkey and Egypt back into US fold and prevent their drawing close to Russia which was being witnessed of late. It could not be done without use of military force and Trump Admn. has taken steps towards this slippery path.
US Admn. bombing of Syrian air base also serves a purpose of hiding mass casualties in US air strikes in Mosul where US is bombing civilian areas. Thousands of civilians have died in these attacks. But the western media has not showcased suffering of civilians in these bombing raids. Saudi led military campaign against Yemen which is being supported by US and in which it is militarily participating, is also leading to a large number of civilian casualties. US bombing raid in Yemen resulted in civilian casualties. Imperialist US, which has murdered a very large number of civilians in its hegemonic wars, is pretending to fight civilian targeting by Assad Govt.!
Whatever be the immediate context of Trump Admn.’s action, Trump has packed his Admn. with military officers, “mad dogs” and has increased military spending. US anyway spends nearly two fifth of the total military spending in the world, spending more than combined expenditure of the next six countries with maximum military spending.
Trump is the epitome of political conmanship. He has no conviction other than self-promotion. Benefiting from workers’ anger against the wall street dons, he has packed all his economic and commerce ministries with the very same people. He benefited from the disillusionment of the people from mindless wars of US Admn. yet packed his Admn. with military hawks and warmongerers. Nothing illustrates chameleon like character better than his support to US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and opposition to it in 2016 without even a blink.
But the world has changed over the past decade and this change cannot be undone even by this conman. His adventure in Syria may either be one-off showmanship or may draw US deeper into this military quagmire. Middle-East is going through deep turmoil. US attempt to turn the clock back are doomed to fail.
US, Hands Off Syria!
April 8, 2017