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Far more chaotic

Far more chaotic
Highlights

As the Trump administration ordered a missile attack on Syria purportedly in response to Bashar regime’s alleged chemical attack on its own people, the US-Russia standoff gets more entangled. The Syrian question turns much more chaotic.

As the Trump administration ordered a missile attack on Syria purportedly in response to Bashar regime’s alleged chemical attack on its own people, the US-Russia standoff gets more entangled. The Syrian question turns much more chaotic. Syria called the attack an “American aggression.” Putin calls it a violation of “international law” as the UN Security Council meets at the Moscow’s request.

Unilateral action without broad international backing through the UN, without a clear strategy for safeguarding civilians, and through military escalation risks further deepening and exacerbating an already protracted and horrific conflict, fear experts. The legitimacy and effectiveness of the action is diminished due to circumventing of United Nations.

Even as Washington blames the Syrian military for the toxic attack, Damascus calls it a lie. The cooperation between the US and Russia is vital for peaceful resolution of protracted conflict in Syria. Even Trump held this position during his campaign trial. But, the latest attack of US on Syrian air base has worsened the relations between the two powers, thus turning the situation much more complex. Such an eventuality would undermine the fight against ISIS.

There are too many players in the Syrian conflict. The Bashar government, armed opposition to it and the ISIS – none of them will welcome the American intervention creating far more chaos than clarity for the peace process. In fact, Donald Trump advised President Barack Obama not to strike Syria after a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus three years ago. “There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your powder for another day!” Trump said on Twitter in September 2013.

As a candidate, Trump said that dislodging Bashar Al Assad was not as urgent priority for the United States as vanquishing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Even he criticised Obama and Hillary as “plunging heedlessly into foreign entanglements, drawn by misplaced idealism and the substitution of other nation’s interests for America’s.” He alleged that the Obama dispensation had made Middle East more unstable and chaotic than ever before.

It’s difficult to reconcile President Trump’s impulsive attack on Syria with his earlier pronouncements. During the Syrian civil war, Obama focused more on the costs of intervention than the risks of inaction. Such an approach made Obama refrain from carrying out a retaliatory attack in a similar situation three years ago.

In the recent past, thanks to Russian support, the Bashar regime was having an upper hand in the war on ISIS. The talks were to convince the Syrian regime to be more accommodative towards non-ISIS armed opposition that could have been facilitated if the US-led coalition stopped aiding the latter. But, the latest flare-up may derail the gains both on the ground and in the talks.

Thus, Syria may be sliding into yet another phase of bloody conflicts, prolonged uncertainty and unending negotiations. As the New York Times commented, Trump’s improvisational style has sometimes seemed ill-suited to the gravity of his office. In this case, it helped lead him to make the gravest decision a commander-in-chief can make.

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