Donald Trump who had been constantly warning former President Barack Obama against the grave consequences of military intervention in Syria during the course of his presidential campaign, surprised the world on Friday with Washington’s unprecedented missile attack against a Syrian air base near the city of Homs. The White House alleges that the offensive was in response to a gas attack by Syrian government forces in Idlib, whereas the Syrian government has categorically denied having carried out any chemical strike against militant groups. In this episode of The Debate, Press TV has asked Brian Becker, with the ANSWER Coalition, and Peter Sinnott, an independent scholar, why they think Trump changed his mind about Syria.
Brian Becker maintains that the US attack on the military base in Syria was first of all a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, stressing that “Syria is technically at peace with the United States and the UN Charter makes it clear that member states cannot attack each other and launch military strikes against each other except in the case of imminent self-defense."
He further noted that in his view the attack on Syria was staged by the US administration to ease growing pressure on President Trump from Republican and Democratic media over what they call his passive approach towards Syria and its main ally, Russia.
“The Trump administration wanted to strike Syria for a couple of reasons. One is [that] CNN and Washington Post had been condemning Trump for not acting. They had been condemning Trump since he took office and this was a sheer fire play to mute his critics domestically, and it has succeeded. You now see Republicans and Democrats, including the mainstream media, which has been so critical of him, applauding Trump for acting,” Becker argued.
However, Peter Sinnott, the other panelist on the show, claimed that the US missile attack on Syria was actually a warning to the Syrian president that Trump’s focus on Daesh terrorists in Syria should not be interpreted as a green light for Bashar Assad to do whatever he wants.
“Trump certainly has used isolationist phrases when he was running for president and even a few days before the attack, he basically was saying the US was not interested in replacing the Assad regime [and] it was focusing on the destruction of ISIS [Daesh],” Sinnott said.
“What has happened is that this was seen as a very concerted response to what Trump has said. So, in other words, Assad saw this as a basically green light that he could do what he wanted,” he opined, adding that “the attacks are done on the airbase as a response. Because if there had not been a response like this, it would be the normalization of the use of weapons of mass destruction in the future.”
Syria has denied carrying out the purported gas attack, with Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem stressing that the Idlib airstrike had targeted a depot, where terrorists stored chemical weapons.
Washington has failed to provide any evidence to support its accusations against Syria, prompting criticism from many countries and international intuitions for choosing to take unilateral military action hastily and without proof.
Meanwhile, the strike has drawn praise from anti-Damascus militant groups as well as parties long viewed as their staunch supporters, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and their Western allies.