BY launching a missile attack on a Syrian air force base, Donald Trump has acted as US presidents are wont to do, which is to violate the sovereignty of independent countries and to trample upon international law.
In ordering the first military action against the Syrian government and its armed forces, Trump has also dispelled some of the fake news that he himself had purveyed. During the presidential election campaign, Trump had criticised US military interventions to effect “regime change” and the folly of spending huge amounts of money in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, he had warned Obama not to take military action against Syria in 2013 when the Syrian regime was alleged of using chemical weapons.
The reason cited for this act of military aggression was that the Syrian air force had allegedly dropped sarin gas (a chemical weapon) on the Khan Shiekun town in the Idlib province. The city is under the control of the Al-Shams extremist group which has affiliation to the Al-Qaeda. It was reported that 70 people, including children, died due to the gas attack. The claim of the rebels that the Syrian government forces had used chemical weapons has been accepted by all the western powers, including the United States.
The use of sarin gas as a chemical weapon is banned by international treaty. If this gas was used in the town, it would be a heinous offence. But there has been no enquiry to establish who is responsible for the use of this chemical weapon.
The Syrian government has categorically denied the use of chemical weapons by its armed forces in the Khan Shiekun town. The Syrian air force has claimed that chemical weapons stored by the rebel extremists at some place may have been hit in the air force operations thereby releasing lethal gas which affected the civilian population.
The media barrage and the orchestrated campaign by the western powers notwithstanding, it is necessary to consider the Syrian government’s version and establish the truth through an independent international enquiry, because there was a similar episode in August 2013. At that time, there was a sarin gas attack in Ghouta in the outskirts of Damascus city. There was an outcry by the rebels and the western powers that the Assad government was responsible. The then president Obama had contemplated military strikes against the Syrian government but had to back down given strong international opposition.
Later investigation showed that the sarin gas had been acquired by the Al-Shams group in Ghouta with the connivance of some Turkish authorities. It is the same Al-Shams group which is now in control of the Khan Shiekun town. The US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh had published the results of a meticulous investigation conducted by him which revealed the actual culprits behind this heinous attack.
There is another sound reason to disbelieve the western propaganda about the culpability of the Bashar al Assad’s government in this attack. The Assad government has got the upper hand in the military conflict with the rebels backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the Western patrons. All the major cities are back under its control. It would be extremely shortsighted and foolish for the Syrian government forces to launch a chemical attack on its own people and invite western military intervention. Moreover, after the 2013 episode, Syria had complied with the Security Council Resolution to destroy its entire stock of chemical weapons under UN supervision. This was confirmed by the UN affiliated body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in June 2014.
The military attack on Syria has won Trump support from the strong war lobby and the “liberal” imperialists who dominate the opposition Democratic Party and the media. The liberal media, which has been attacking Trump for all his policy measures, sang his praises for the military action.
The Trump administration has resumed the demand raised earlier by the US that Assad should be removed from power. Whoever is the US president, they uphold the interests of the US imperial order. President Obama, who was hailed as a peace-maker, launched the air attacks on Libya which helped to topple Qaddafi; he armed and financed the rebels in Syria through Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He also sent more troops into Afghanistan and Iraq after promising to withdraw from these countries.
The Syrian military attack illustrates once again the nature of the American State – an imperialist State monopoly structure which thrives on war-mongering and aggression to maintain its global hegemony.
By adopting an aggressive posture against the Syrian government, the Trump has also gone back on his earlier commitment to cooperate with Russia to fight what he terms as the main danger, the ISIS. The Trump administration is demanding that Russia end its support to the Assad government.
The ground reality in Syria is that any stepped up military intervention by the US against the Syrian government will only help the ISIS and the Islamist extremists. It is very doubtful that the Assad government will be cowed down by such threats, nor will its allies – Russia and Iran – back down.
(April 12, 2017)