Russian officials insist there is no reason to think chemical weapons might be about to be used. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia considers the White House statement a threat against the legitimate leadership of the Syrian government, and marks a continuation of the US instigating violence against that government. In relevant remarks, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani has warned the US to avoid unilateral moves against Syria, saying “Washington is playing with fire.”
Almost as shocked as secretaries Mattis and Tillerson and National Security Adviser McMaster must have been when they first heard about Trump’s Tweets, Pentagon officials say they were totally unaware of this putative evidence of a chemical attack until the moment the Trump White House issued the statement, something they completely didn’t see coming. The State Department, which would normally be involved in coordinating such an important press release, also wasn’t consulted.
The White House has since offered a secondary comment insisting that all of the officials who are quoted in the media saying they didn’t know about the announcement “are lying,” and that the White House did consult with everybody. The only person who may conceivably have been in the loop is US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who almost immediately after the White House statement Tweeted that any future attacks in Syria would be blamed on President Assad, Russia, and Iran.
All this does give the impression that the evidence-free statement by the White House is mostly a pretext for picking a fight in Syria. The fact that it came mere hours after Secretary of State Tillerson spoke with the Russian Foreign Minister about a new ceasefire also gives the appearance this was a none-too-subtle way of turning that proposal down.
It’s not that hard to know what to make of all this:
1) In recent weeks, US forces and their militant allies have engaged in a number of skirmishes with forces allied with Damascus in southern and eastern Syria. American aircraft have twice bombed Syrian-supporting allied forces. And on June 18, a US fighter shot down a Syrian warplane just west of Raqqa. In every case Washington has claimed self-defense, despite the questionable legality of its own presence in Syria.
2) The skirmishes have raised speculation that the US is heading toward confrontation with the allied forces of Iran, Syria, Russia, and Hezbollah. In particular, the Trump administration, which has taken an approach toward Iran that, maximizes sanctions and confrontation at the expense of diplomacy, views control of eastern Syria as key to preventing Tehran from developing a friendly land corridor through Iraq and Syria all the way to Lebanon, which it sees as bad news for Israel.
3) Both Israel and the United States are ramping up a stealth escalation of their military involvement across the region. The spectacle is intended to distract from their regime-change fantasy that has been trashed in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Across the Middle East, their solution is to drive the US even further into wars without end, increasing the dangers of direct military confrontation with Russia and Iran, with little awareness and no mandate from the American people or the United Nations. This is a recipe for calamity.
4) The desperate military involvement has accelerated in recent weeks, with the Saudis, Emiratis and Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone insisting that Trump’s manhood is on the line. As the battle by the allied forces of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia, and Hezbollah against ISIL and Al-Qaeda reaches its final stage, the Pentagon regime seems intent on sustaining a presence in the Levant, aimed at preventing the Syrian government from regaining control over the country.
5) The warmongers have no discernible strategy though. They cannot take on the Syrian government and they neither have the plan nor the will to displace its allies. They simply add troops and roll up the chaos to ensure that the “dumb war” will go on without end and without victory.
6) In this context, the escalation through sheer incompetence and incoherence is flagrant in its illegality under International Law and UN Charter. Unlike Iran and Russia, the United States has not been invited into Syria by the government, so when the Pentagon regime shoots down a Syrian jet or targets pro-Iran volunteer forces along the Syrian-Iraqi border, it is an act of war, in direct violation of the UN Charter.
In the current atmosphere, the allied forces are still fighting ISIL and Al-Qaeda. Ironically, it is America’s Saudi-Israeli allies that have been the source of funds, weapons, and strategy for the terrorist groups. Efforts by the Trump White House to hide them from view or game out the various scenarios for some serious fireworks no longer fool the international community.
What’s more, and this is the main point, although Iran justified its unprecedented missile strike by the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps in eastern Syria as retaliation for the June 7 terrorist attacks in Tehran, it was also a shot across the bow of the US-led warmongers to remind them of their own vulnerability if war breaks out either in the Persian Gulf or in Syria.