Overnight the Trump Administration launched a missile attack on the Syrian air force base from which the Bashar Al-Assad regime launched this week’s gas attack on Khan Sheikhoum in the country’s Iblid province. The deaths of 70 civilians and particularly children from the Syrian attack caused worldwide outrage.
The 59 missiles launched against the Shayrat Air Force base tonight was America’s answer to an action that President Donald Trump had defined “as crossing the line” by the Syrian Dictator.
Despite that denials from #Syria’s ally Russia, Turkish and other sources have reported that the deaths and injuries in this week’s attack was caused Sarin and other forms of gas weapons.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack earlier this week a UN Security Council motion condemning the attack moved by the United States, France and Britain had been vetoed by Russia.
On Thursday President Trump instructed the National Security Council to prepare recommendations for an American military response to the act of Syrian aggression. As a result of the recommendations, at 3.45am Syrian time the United States warships the USS Ross and Porter launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on the airbase from which the gas raid was launched..
In his statement reported by the Guardian and the world press, #President Donald Trump said that
“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the United Nations Security Council. Years of attempts of changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically.”
There are contradictions on if and when the United States advised Russia of the impending attack. Although the Pentagon announced that the “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that Russia had not been advised.
As we await further explanations on this matter, the difference in announcements may be explained by the different channels the two branches of the American Administration use with the Russians..
Policy on Syria
The attack of Khan Sheikhoun also had other effects on United States policy on Syria. Last week Secretary Rex Tillerson stated that the removal of Syrian Dictator Bashar Al-Assad was not a priority for America but as reported by the BBC on Thursday the Secretary stated that Al-Assad should have no role on the future of Syria.
The attack on Syria effectively marks the debut of the Trump Administration in military interventions as the previous commando raid in Yemen authorized by the White House had originally been prepared by the Obama Administration.
The speed of the reaction by the Oval Office has surprised many and only time will tell if it has been too swift as the request to the NSC for recommendations and the decision to launch the attack took less than a day.
It is too early to predict the consequences of the action, both in terms of the situation in Syria and also the response from Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin of an attack on one of his allies. It must be remembered that Russia undertook a military mission in Syria last year in support of the Al-Assad regime.
In announcing the launch from his Mar-a-Lago resort President Donald Trump stated that “Assad has choked the lives of helpless men, women and children” and that the intention was “to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.”
The President is in Florida in preparation for hosting China’s President Xin Jinping and the attack on Syria will now be a priority item on the agenda. The presence of the Chinese President with President Trump may also dictate the Russian response to this morning’s military action by the United States.
As with all military actions the missile strike on the Syrian air base will have effects both short and long term that will be hard to predict. The key will be how Vladimir Putin will respond to what Russia will consider American aggression.
This missile attack will also mark changes in the direction of the Trump Adminstration as not all Republicans were happy that the attack was launched without authorization from Congress and some members of the House have asked for a sitting to address the issue.
In addition, Russia is sure to ask for an urgent session of the United Nations Security Council on what it will surely consider an unjustified attack on an ally.
The world today entered another phase of the New Cold War between the United States and Russia. A week that began in expectation of the US-Chinese Summit is now looking at a probable new crisis between the world's two biggest superpowers.
We have had concrete proof that a week is truly a long time in politics. #Vladimir Putin #bashar al assad