Syria

Trump’s Syria Troubles

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On April 14th, at 4 AM local time, more than one hundred missiles were launched at the targets in Syria by the airplanes and ships of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. All targets have been connected with the Bashir al-Assad’s ability to conduct chemical warfare, and the strike itself has been a retaliation to the recent chemical attack in Douma.

While the attacks have been successful in destroying its targets and the production and stockpiles of chemical agents of the Syrian regime have been seriously compromised, the mission is far from accomplished, despite what President Trump may have tweeted. The statement rings true just as much it did last time it was uttered by an American President.

These strikes will do little, if anything, to protect Syrian civilian population from Assad’s regime. While they put some dents in his war machine, it won’t be stopped without a serious troop commitment on the ground, something nobody in NATO is willing to even discuss, let alone approve. Truth be told, Mr. Trump did advocate for a more massive strike, a one that will destroy not only chemical facilities, but also airfields and army bases, but was convinced by Secretary of Defense James Mattis to dial it down. Mattis argument was that such huge escalation might provoke a response from Russia, which has a strong military presence in the region and make things even worse in the region.

Source:businessinsider.com

Trump’s insistence for a decisive strike against Syrian regime seems to be in a direct collision with his plans for the withdrawal of all US troops from Syria. That President Trump’s decisions can be quite contradictory to each other is nothing new, but this time he may outdo even himself. In the end, we got an almost symbolic show of force that did little to either punish Syrian regime or promote American interests in the region.

The reasons for President Trump’s back and forth policy in Syria are unclear. There are several theories, though. The first one is that he agreed to strikes in order to distract public from Mueller investigation and FBI raid on his personal lawyer premises, not to mention the looming release of James Comey’s book. The investigation seems to be uncovering new evidence of collusion and Trump’s position seems weaker by the minute. It is a proven tactic and it is clear that nothing boosts presidential approval ratings as a war, and Trump has gone and got himself just that.

The other theory says that he ordered attacks in order to prove that he isn’t Putin’s puppet and that is why the attack was so impotent. That would make the whole Trump – Mattis conflict we mentioned above a simple theater, aimed at his voters.

Source:latimes.com

While both of these may have some elements of truth and could have played some small part in Mr. Trump’s internal decision-making process, the real reasons behind his decisions are far more dangerous. Mr. Trump doesn’t understand the military. He never did and probably never will. To him, all those shiny airplanes, ships, and missiles are just a symbol of America’s power (and, by extension, his own personal power) rather than an instrument of said power. All that boots on the ground, nation-building, democracy development is boring, time-consuming, and messy and it doesn’t work for Mr. Trump. Press a button and launch a missile and boom, instant gratification. He gets to fulfill his threat about “nice and new and ‘smart!’” missiles and tweet “Mission Accomplished,” all in the same go. The fact that his missiles haven’t accomplished anything useful expect waste few million dollars of the tax-payers money doesn’t even come to Mr. Trump’s mind.

The added bonus is that he can sell missile strikes as something completely different from troops on the ground to his voters. Not only his anti-interventionist base will support any plan that doesn’t involve sending the Marines, but they are also ready to accept this non-effective and basically useless strike as a success. In the end, Mr. Trump has his voters, who can sleep at night safe in the knowledge that their President is trying to untangle them form that Middle Eastern mess Obama put them in. Assad gets to kill as many of his citizens as he needs to stay in power and Russia and Iran get to split Syria. A win-win scenario, really.

Source: nationalreview.com

America and Iran poised for battle in Syria

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One of the hallmarks of President Trump’s foreign policy has been a fierce critic of Iran and the deal made by President Obama, which allowed for the Iranian sanctions to be lifted in exchange for Teheran’s giving up its nuclear program. Apart from the Persian Gulf, a traditional battleground between the two countries, US and Iranian forces are also in close proximity in Syria, where members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been instrumental in recent victories of the Syrian Army, with Russian air force providing ample air support. On the other hand, US forces have maintained a presence in Kurdish-occupied parts of Syria, from where they have been coordinating air strikes against regime’s forces.

Despite heavy fighting, there haven’t been any clashes between the two sides so far, much to the dismay of Israel, which has been advocating for a tougher stance on Iran, especially in Syria and has conducted numerous strikes against both Iranian forces and local militias backed by Teheran. This was all done in an effort of preventing Iran from gaining a stronger foothold in the country that shares a border with Israel.

In March, President Trump fired H. R. McMaster from the position of the national security advisor and appointed John Bolton as his replacement. Bolton, a Bush-era hawk and a strong supporter of Iraq war, is known for his aggressive stance and has advocated for preemptive strikes against both North Korea and Iran, a stance that has earned him a wide-spread criticism in international circles. Many have seen this move as a preparation for a more hostile posture towards Iran and its involvement in Syria.

Source:timesofisrael.com

The fears of conflict escalation have also been fueled by the statement made by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, saying that “we want to make sure that the influence of Iran doesn’t take over the area. They continue to cause problems throughout the region, and we want to make sure that there is a hold.” The looming deadline imposed by President Trump on its European allies to fix the Iranian deal, set for May 12th, is fast approaching and if the US withdraws, it would only further destabilize the already fragile situation.

Some experts say that the cost of direct confrontation would be too steep for both countries. Professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham Scott Lucas said that “There’s no appetite on either side to deliberately look for a wider conflict because then your costs outweigh your benefits,” he told Al Jazeera. “You have to put in so many resources and have the problem of not knowing how far this will go.”

Iran has just starting to recover from decades of international sanctions and an open conflict with the world’s most powerful military is something they are desperate to avoid. On the other hand, the US is faced with a dramatic decrease of domestic support for any military adventure in the Middle East and is trying to limit its forces in the region.

Source:csis.org

While an outright conflict between the US and Iran’s forces may be far-fetched, both countries possess capable forces in Syria that can do the fighting for them. Iran has numerous militias which it has trained and supplied for years, and the US have Syrian Democratic Army, a heavily Kurdish-dominated force opposing Assad’s regime. These are fully able to maintain a low-intensity conflict for a long time, supported by their allies in Washington and Teheran.

Source: aljazeera.com

Syria Strikes Indicates What’s Wrong with US Foreign Policy

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During his presidential campaign in 2016, Trump repeatedly indicated that the interventions in the Middle East were stupid and unnecessary. He must have surprised his supporters when he announced that he commanded the US military to launch airstrikes against Syria in response to the supposed chemical weapons attack. Britain and France followed the US in this mission.

Although he spoke differently in the campaign, his preferences obviously changed when he got the seat in the office. He definitely thinks that America cannot watch from the side and as the world leader, his country needs to do something about the atrocities in Syria. Perhaps Trump is not so different from Obama after all. While many would disagree with such a statement, there are similarities between the two presidents. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump made promises that they would change the role of America in the world. However, both failed to do so when faced with pressure. They sensed that they should act and so they did. As a result, we have had a poorly thought-out intervention and this is only going to become more prominent with the Trump administration in power.

According to psychological studies, people are prone to react to something which is happening around them. Inaction is seldom the solution. The studies have shown, that World Cup goalkeepers have more chance to save their net if they stay put, but most of them would dive during a penalty kick. Of course, the stakes are much higher in politics, than they are in soccer, but the bias towards reaction is not debatable. Obama was not the first president to start off with biased reactions. We have to mention George W. Bush whose choices were detrimental to the country and his Foreign Policy only weakened the US influence around the world.

The criticism comes from all sides of the world, whereas media also forces the world leaders to do something about a particular situation. Furthermore, we need to take into consideration that America has the most powerful military in the world, and the cost of airstrikes is negligible. When all of this is combined, we have expected no other reaction from President Donald Trump.

Source:nytimes.com

In 2013, President Obama was seeking approval from Congress to launch airstrikes on Syria due to chemical attacks, but the Congress was against it. This turned out to be a good decision because Obama managed to negotiate the removal of chemical weapons in Syria. This was a risk worth taking, but instead of ending chemical attacks once and for all, it only delayed them for several years. And here we are today.

Jump a few years into the future, and we have Mr. Trump who authorized missile attacks on Syria. The strikes were far less efficient than the dialogue and negotiation since the attacks on civilians didn’t cease, and the Syrian government still uses chemical weapons. Comparing the two decisions by two presidents, Obama made a better one – or the Congress in that matter. Yet, he was widely criticized for the inaction, whereas Trump was praised for the attack. Even some of his biggest critics acknowledged such a move and recognized Trump as someone who can deal with the situation outside the US borders well. Quick action may be effective, but it may sometimes have long-term consequences. Trump’s Syrian airstrike in 2017 proved more effective than Obama’s attack in Libya in 2011, for instance, which was disastrous.

Source:worldtorahnews.com

Before we conclude this topic, we need to look at one more case of poorly thought-out intervention. When the US overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, it caused the European refugee crisis and the civil war which killed more people than the intervention saved. The removal of Gaddafi may have been the biggest mistake of the US foreign policy as Muslims flooded into Europe, settling in the West in countries such as Germany and France. However, Obama came to understand that the intervention needs to be planned carefully. But his epiphany came too late.

Obama doesn’t have an impulsive character, and yet he found it difficult not to act. Donald Trump will be even more impatient, and this is something that needs to be changed. The interventions need to be carefully planned by a president and a leader who knows what he is doing, and Trump is not that leader.

Source: nytimes.com

USA Successful in Syria

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Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes on Syria proved to be a success. But is it a carefully planned strategy behind it, or just an impulsive decision based on the happenings in the recent weeks. Can the United States prevent the Syrian government from using the chemical weapons to attack its people and destroy the Islamic State which holds a territory on the Syrian-Iraqi border?

Many people in Washington doubt it because President Donald Trump wants to withdraw around 2,000 US troops from the bases in Syria. The naysayers and doubters are wrong, and there is a way to eliminate the Islamic State, but some measures which are not so popular need to be taken – cooperation with Russia is necessary.

Source:militarytimes.com

The airstrikes were successful, but Syria is looking for ways to import the chemical weapons and renew the chemical weapons program as we speak. This violates the Chemical Weapons Convention, but this also means that the government has small locations which house chemical weapons and which have escaped the detectors of the US military and its allies.

As for the Islamic State issues, the US special operation forces cooperate with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which claim the territory after it has been taken from the ISIS. However, they have been expecting from the US to help them defend such territories indefinitely, which is not realistic. The Kurds held Afrin in northwestern Syria, but losing this territory resulted in the freezing of the combat in the Islamic State and their last stronghold. This has complicated relations between the United States and the SDF and what made matters worse is Trump’s statement to withdraw American forces from the fight after the Islamic State territory is taken.

Source:rferl.org

Trump has mainly focused on combating the Islamic State, but the recent airstrikes were intended to stop the Syrian government form using chemical weapons. Together with France, they have stopped the expansion of the Turkish military operation on Euphrates river, and this has reduced the gap between America and the SDF. Trumps administration also imposed sanctions on Russian entities because of their inaction and support of such system. The question which arises is this really the time for the US to withdraw from the region. If the further decisions are to be based on diplomacy and not military intervention, then the withdrawal is justified.

To solve the issue with chemical weapons, America will have to work together with International agencies continuously. The entire process will require Russian involvement. Furthermore, the United States will have to protect the spoils of war against the Islamic State but don’t forget that the US military will not be present on the ground to defend. They need to do so with the SDF, but they will have to explain their presence and come to an understanding with Moscow. If Russia refuses to allow the SDF actions, the Islamic State may attack its posts and spread once more. The good thing is that this can be prevented. America needs to offer Russia a guarantee of regime security, which is a fair deal. Also, the US troops cannot withdraw all at once. It is a gradual process, and some troops would stay in Syria until things quiet down and the Islamic State leadership defeated. To hunt down the remaining Islamic State leaders, the United States and Russia need to work together.

Source:vox.com

Trump intends to remove the troops, but the regime will still stand, and the chemical weapons facilities will not be removed. The Russian military will furthermore have a big influence in the country, so what is the next step for the US? They need to continue their talks with Moscow and agree upon particular interests of the United States in Syrian civil war.

Source: foreignpolicy.com

Donald Trump Claims Response To Syria Is Coming Fairly Soon

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The U.S. President Donald Trump stated that America still hasn’t made action plan regarding the situation in Syria. But, the decision will be made “fairly soon.” Talking to gathered reporters in White House, Trump stated that his team is taking this situation “very, very seriously.” The chemical attacks in the town of Douma have put the entire world on notice.

Western powers, led by U.K. and U.S. are gearing up for a strike, but Russia who is an ally of Syria is against taking any rash actions. The envoy of Russia in UN, Vassily Nebenzia said that a war between Russia and America could not be excluded. Talking to reporters on Thursday he said: “The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war.”

France, as one of the countries who want to launch air strikes on Syria, claims to have collected evidence that there was a use of chemical weapons in Douma. According to French President, Emmanuel Macron, his country has solid “proof” of this.

Source: www.politico.eu

The U.K. cabinet of ministers and its Prime Minister Theresa May stated that they are trying to “deter the further use of chemical weapons” and that they are trying to “keep working closely” with their U.S. allies.

According to sources from White House, Donald Trump also Talked with French President.

The UN Security Council has a scheduled meeting for later today to further discuss this crisis.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and according to Trump, he bore responsibility for “atrocity” that happened in rebel-held Douma.

Source: politico.eu

Donald Trump is at the moment gathering U.S. allies to get the support for the much-needed attack on Syria. During talks with France and U.K., he also used the Twitter platform to threaten Syria and Russia with words that “missiles are coming.” He later denied making those threats and said that air strike could commence “very soon, or not so soon at all.”

But in a most recent statement to the reporters President of The United Stats Mr. Donald Trump said: We’re having a meeting today on Syria… “We have to make some further decisions. So they’ll be made fairly soon.”

Jim Mattis, US Secretary Of Defense also talked to the gathered press and made a statement about chemical attacks: “I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence.”

Stay tuned as we bring more news about the development of Syrian crisis.

Donald Trump Still Not Sure How Will U.S. Retaliate To Syria

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British Prime Minister Theresa May called for an emergency meeting of the cabinet on Thursday, while the U.S. President remains undecided on the manner of retaliation.

Donald Trump still hasn’t decided how will the United States of America respond to chemical weapons attack conducted by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Damascus. The entire western world is gearing up to go against Syrian President.

Chief of Pentagon, Jim Mattis and the rest of Trump’s national security team had a meeting on Wednesday. Before that President Trump gave out a warning to Russia via Twitter: “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

Head of the U.S. threatened to fire a barrage of missiles on Syria, but despite this, the U.S. is not sure in which way are they going to retaliate. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the spokeswoman for White House, told the gathered reporters on Wednesday, that the president is conducting conversations with U.S. allies.

When asked what military steps are they going to take she responded: “We’re maintaining that we have a number of options and all of those options are still on the table. Final decisions haven’t been made yet on that front.”

The officials of White House were clear that the decision will be made after consultations with closest allies – French President Emmanuel Macron, and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May. The U.K. Cabinet will meet on Thursday to decide which actions will be taken after Assad regime allegedly used chemical weapons against Syrian Rebels located in Douma. Despite Russian claims that Syrian president is not to be blamed for the attack, U.K. Officials doubt that he’s not responsible.

Talking to reporters Therese May said: “All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible. We will be working with our closest allies on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account. The continued use of chemical weapons cannot go unchallenged.” This was yesterday, and same as the U.S., the U.K. still has to decide which steps are they going to take.

Interestingly, despite the claims that conflict is imminent, the price of oil remains high. At the same time, Turkey’s currency weakened. Turkey is one of the country’s that has troops stationed in Syria.

This is the second time in one year span that the U.S. needs to take action in Syria. In April of 2017, they conducted swift air strikes that destroyed single Syrian base. This time around the U.S. needs to hit harder.

Assad’s political advisers claim that no chemical weapon was used. They are adamant that regardless of world’s reaction they will, together with their allies Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah prevail as winners: “They will not win in anything they do. We will be the winners.”

In order to avoid breaking of international law, the U.S. will have to strike together with their allies. It is expected that joint force of U.S, France, U.K., and Saudi Arabia would help “to build a case for the humanitarian mandate.”

Source: collider.com

Donald Trump was clear in one of his Twitter addresses to Russia: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart.’ ”

Chief of Staff at Pentagon together with CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated that the U.S. is “ready to provide military options if appropriate.” Air strikes could possibly damage one of Russia’s assets in Syria, and if this happens even by accident, it could create a more profound conflict between America and Russia.

Ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Norbert Roettgen said about the situation: “There must be a consistent Syria policy, that is the key thing. There is no real U.S. policy on Syria. Assad and Russia have been given a free hand militarily.”

The high tensions prompted Syrian government to clear airports and military positions in expectations of U.S. air strike. One of the Syrian officials from the Foreign Ministry said: “The Americans are sponsoring the lies of “terrorists” as a pretext to attack Syria.”

Source: cbsnews.com

European air traffic agency, Eurocontrol, issued a warning to all air companies not to use the airspace above Syria due to the possibility of an air strike.

Talking about the matter Elena Suponina, a Mideast analyst at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies said: “The risk of military conflict between Russia and the U.S. in Syria is very high. If Trump takes this step and Russian citizens are harmed, the reaction will be very harsh.”

Eurocontrol Warns Airlines of Possible Missile Air Strikes into Syria

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Pan-European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol warned airlines to exercise caution in the area of the eastern Mediterranean. The reason for this is possible air strikes into Syria in the upcoming days, Reuters reports.

According to Eurocontrol, air-to-ground and cruise missiles could be used in the next 72 hours and radio navigation equipment may be disrupted. The US President Donald Trump and the Western allies are discussing an attack on Syria’s Bashar Assad. He allegedly attacked a rebel-held town with poison gas, but this hasn’t been confirmed. Trump canceled his trip to Latin America and will focus on the Syria incident instead.

Source:almasdarnews.com

The Eurocontrol posted a warning on its official website, but the origin of the potential missile threat has not been specified. The warning stated: “Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area.”

Aviation regulators in the USA, the GB, France, and Germany have issued warnings preventing their airlines from entering Syrian airspace. The only commercial flight above Syria was flown by Syrian Air, and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines reports FlightRadar24. There have been no flights later in the day.

According to the Lufthansa spokesperson, they were aware of the warnings, and they are in contact with Eurocontrol authorities. He said: “As a proactive precaution, Lufthansa Group airlines have already avoided the airspace in the eastern Mediterranean for some time now.” Some other airlines such as Ryanair Holdings PLC and British Airways were operating normally, but the situation was being monitored closely.

Source:seaforces.org

The US has sent the “Harry S. Truman plane carrier into this part of the Mediterranean, and it has been followed by seven warships, according to the multiple sources. The “Harry S. Truman” shipped from the Norfolk port and it will act together with the Fifth and Sixth American Fleet.

Source: rts.rs