That the US acts on the margins of international law without concern for the consequences of its actions is nothing new. What happened in Syria on the 7 April is further proof of this.
Pablo Sapag M.
Just as on previous occasions, nothing good will come of this act which the US will end up half-heartedly excusing itself for decades later.
It waited seventy years before offering a faint-hearted ‘never again’ for the only nuclear attack to take place to date on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It took forty years for it to acknowledge, again half-heartedly, its use of napalm and other toxic agents in Vietnam: the same four decades it took for it to admit to its active part in the plot to bring down another president, Chilean Salvador Allende.
Within a few decades, another US leader might rue the fact that his country did not stand up to the terrorism which is bent on seizing control of Syria.
For Syria, as the aggrieved party, the US attack comes as something of a gift. For the first time since 2011, there have been demonstrations throughout the world from Los Angeles to Santiago by way of London and Sydney, condemning the unilateral action of the US and showing support for Syria.
In military terms, there is no cost for Syria. The bombing took place on an empty air base because hours earlier Syria’s ally, Russia, pre-warned them of it.
In addition, Syria has for a year been clearly in control on all important fronts: Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Palmyra, and Daraa. This will in no way change just because of a one-off attack which has the appearance of being purely cosmetic.
It does of course however have consequences with regards to the complete lack of credibility Trump can expect to have with Syrians. Syrian president, Bashar Al Asad, had prior to this received direct indications that the new president of the US wanted to collaborate with Damascus in the struggle against terrorist groups.
With the attack, this possibility is evaporating. In Damascus, the view is that Trump has done what the intelligence services – bequeathed by Obama’s administration which he was confronted with when he arrived in the White House – wanted him to. The attack also constitutes a gift from the US to its prominent allies in the region.
On the one hand, for the absolutist and oil producing monarchy of Saudi Arabia, Trump signals it can continue exporting the jihadist ideology which is inspiring terrorist groups operating in Syria and the rest of the world.
On the other hand, for Israel, to which he is giving carte blanche, can continue carrying out attacks like the one on Friday,identical to those the Zionist nuclear state routinely carries out in Palestine and Lebanon.
It is however little more than this, as in Syria the options for the US are very limited. First, because Syria has demonstrated an ability to resist which is rooted in the anti-imperialist and above all the religious and ethnic multi-denominational nature of its people. Two powerful characteristics for dealing with any eventuality: though these factors are not understood in Washington where its historical and linguistic descriptions are not enough to explain the complex reality of this Arab country.
Its impact is also limited because Syria relies on Russia which it shares historical ties with because of the Syrian missionaries who converted Russians to Orthodox Christianity. And there are the shared interests too: the desire to prevent international jihadism in Syria from spreading to Russia; as well as the interests Russia shares with Damascus regarding energy. For all these reasons, Moscow will not abandon Syria.
After the US bombing, Russia bolstered Syrian anti-air defences which means new attacks, which would cause a direct clash between the Russians and Americans, are not expected.
The only net losers in the attack are the international organisations: starting with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which since 2013 had ratified total chemical disarmament in Syria on several occasions; as well as the UN which approved these ratifications with resolutions in both the Security Council and the General Assembly.
Both have been ignored and despised as a result of this US attack whose justification lies in unproven fact and which has the semblance of a propagandist set-up and violates international law. Which amounts to business as usual. Since now at last Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. Congratulations, Mister President!
(Translated by Nigel Conibear – DipTrans IoLET MCIL – firstname.lastname@example.org)