The U.S. stake in the fight against Syria

The U.S. stake in the fight against Syria

The U.S. stake in the fight against Syria
April 11
22:08 2017

What President Donald Trump has done that former President Barack Obama failed to do was show an actual commitment to removing chemical weapons from Syria.

This is not the first time that Bashar Al-Assad has used sarin nerve gas on his own people. The first time, in 2013, 1,729 innocent civilians were gassed while the United States watched silently. Instead of punishing Assad for breaking the Geneva Protocol, which has been upheld by 140 countries since World War I, Obama made Assad promise to destroy his chemical weapon cache.

However, a western intelligence officer reported that Syria had 45 sites capable of producing chemical weapons, while only 23 sites were disclosed by Syria. It is not unlikely that Syria hid some of its chemical weapons in anticipation of using it in the near future.

The 59 cruise missiles that launched against the Sharyat airbase in Syria last Thursday are the most recent actions by the U.S. against Assad’s regime. These chemical attacks appear to be the result of Trump’s last straw, as he went against his non-involvement policy in Syria.

These views were consistent throughout his campaign, but Trump has attributed his policy change to Syria’s brutality on innocents. When reporters asked him if Assad’s actions had crossed the line, he responded: “It crossed a lot of lines with me. When you kill innocent children – innocent babies – with chemical gas, that goes beyond red lines.”

As violent as Trump’s actions were, the missiles had little effects on the airbase. Less than 24 hours after the attack, planes took off once again from the Sharyat airbase. These airstrikes sent more of a message than directly preventing future attacks, and shows that the U.S. will no longer tolerate Assad’s crimes.

It is saddening to see so many conflicting opinions coming out of the White House. Everyone working directly with Trump should have the same opinion in order to present a unified front. Not to mention that Trump has done a complete 180 on his “stay out of Syria” stance.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, represents his intention to an even stronger degree. In a CNN interview, she said that the U.S. doesn’t only need a more controlling influence in Syria, but there is no possible way for peace under Assad. She believes in a total regime change.

Her views clash with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who commented that there is no need to switch out Assad. He has made it clear that these gruesome attacks against Syrians are not at the forefront of America’s interest, which he says is to defeat ISIS.

What the U.S. needs now more than ever is to actually present the image of a united America, whose representatives all hold similar core values. With Russia upset about the attack, Tillerson, Haley and the rest of the Trump administration need to show that the U.S. can act as one.

According to The Associated PressRussia knew in advance of Syria’s attacks, but there is still no proof of Moscow involvement. But since the U.S. warned Russia of their attack, Syrian forces removed most of their planes from the airbase. A former Syrian pilot told AP that the damage caused to the airfield could be “fixed within hours,” and unless the control tower or communication system was damaged, which they weren’t, there would be no lasting damage to the airbase or Assad’s regime.

This whole ordeal has taken its toll on U.S./Russia relations. While accusations over hacking and spies have already strained the fragile relationship, the U.S.’s direct action against Syria has pushed Russia to its limits. Russian President Vladimir Putin brought a warship to the Mediterranean to protect Syria from future U.S. attacks, and Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, has said that these attacks have undermined Moscow’s trust in the Trump administration.

While a proxy war was already raging between the Russian-backed Assad regime and U.S.-backed rebels, a direct clash between the two superpowers would lead to immense losses. Although these attacks indicated a more decisive and vindictive America, we must take measures to ensure that we do not step on the toes of other great powers.

Featured Image: Samuel Wiggins

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Matthew Li

Matthew Li

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