by Ruby Henley
President Trump has not yet made a decision to strike Syria. He and America’s allies are perplexed as to what actions can be taken to protect the Syrian people from their own government. The Syrian Arab Republic has a track record of using chemical weapons on unsuspecting villagers. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is again being forced into Syria to investigate crimes against humanity. Little has been left to the imagination when it comes to what the Syrian people have experienced under Assad.
In a conclusive report the Organization expressed its shock at the existence and use of these weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The following is an excerpt from reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/N1734930.pdf
“The continuing use of chemical weapons, including by non-State actors, is deeply disturbing. If such use, notwithstanding its prohibition by the international community, is not stopped now, a lack of consequences will surely encourage others to follow, not only in the Syrian Arab Republic, but also elsewhere. This is the time to bring these acts to an end.
With respect to identifying those responsible, the Leadership Panel has determined that the information that it has obtained constitutes sufficient credible and reliable evidence of the following:
- a) Aircraft dropped munitions over Khan Shaykhun between 0630 and 0700 hours on 4 April 2017;
- b) An aircraft of the Syrian Arab Republic was in the immediate vicinity of Khan Shaykhun between 0630 and 0700 hours on 4 April 2017;
- c) The crater from which the sarin emanated was created on the morning of 4 April 2017;
- d) The crater was caused by the impact of an aerial bomb travelling at high velocity;
- e) A large number of people were affected by sarin between 0630 and 0700 hours on the morning of 4 April 2017;
- f) The number of persons affected by the release of sarin on 4 April 2017, and the fact that sarin reportedly continued to be present at the site of the crater 10 days after the incident, indicate that a large amount of sarin was likely released, which is consistent with its being dispersed through a chemical aerial bomb;
- g) The symptoms of victims and their medical treatment, as well as the scale of the incident, are consistent with a large-scale intoxication of sarin;
- h) The sarin identified in the samples taken from Khan Shaykhun was found to have most likely been made with a precursor (DF) from the original stockpile of the Syrian Arab Republic;
- i) The irregularities described in annex II are not of such a nature as to call into question the aforementioned findings. On the basis of the foregoing, the Leadership Panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017.”
In other words, during the time Assad was struggling to remove rebels from the Syrian community of Khan Shaykhun, he made the grave choice to drop chemical weapons on his own people. This is a crime against humanity, and that is bottom line.
In response to the chemical attacks, President Trump released an emotional statement, “Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who passed. And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.”
Facing the first major foreign policy test of his presidency, Trump said he ordered a limited and targeted missile strike on a Syrian airfield from which the chemical attacks were launched. Trump said years of attempts to change the behavior of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad “have all failed and failed very dramatically.”
President Trump is now being faced with the same decision again. However, this time he is up against a wall of resistance from the America people. And for all intents and purposes, President Trump does seem to be influenced by what We The People think. We find ourselves in a world of disbelief, and we do not want to see World War III begin.
Today President Trump is being extremely cautious, and that is as it should be. He said yesterday he had put off a final decision on possible military strikes against Syria after tweeting earlier that they could happen “very soon or not so soon at all.” The White House said he would consult further with allies.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned such an attack carried the risk of spinning out of control, suggesting caution ahead of a decision on how to respond to an attack against civilians last weekend that U.S. officials are increasingly certain involved the use of banned chemical weapons. British officials said up to 75 people were killed.
Personally I have had doubts surrounding the attack, but as of today I believe that Assad did use chemical weapons again on his own people. The same Organization which has investigated in the past is investigating again.
Theresa May made the comment that if a strike occurred, it would have to executed before Monday. Since this is such a volatile situation, and we actually have a President who listens to the American people – we cannot predict what this weekend may bring.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said after Trump met with Mattis and other members of his National Security Council: “No final decision has been made. We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies.”
Sanders said Trump would speak later with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Macron has actually said he has “evidence” that Assad did in fact execute an attack using chemical weapons on the Syrian people. Theresa May presently has submarines within striking distance of Syria, or that is what is being reported.
Although Mattis noted that military action carried risks, he also emphasized that Syrian use of chemical weapons should not be tolerated. However, he insists it is U.S. policy not to be involved directly in Syria’s civil war. “Our strategy remains the same as a year ago,” he said. “It is to drive this to a U.N.-brokered peace but, at the same time, keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it.”
Mattis’ remarks at a House Armed Services Committee hearing followed a series of Trump tweets this week that initially indicated he was committed to bombing Syria, but later suggested he was awaiting further advice and assessment.
Later Thursday he was noncommittal. “We’re looking very, very seriously, very closely at the whole situation,” he told reporters.
Mattis said options would be discussed with Trump at a meeting late Thursday of his National Security Council. That meant airstrikes, possibly coordinating with France and other allies that have expressed outrage at the alleged Syrian chemical attack, could be launched within hours of a presidential decision.
The U.S., France, and Britain have been in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week, U.S. officials have said. A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the U.S. in the lead, could send a message of international unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons.
It would be good for a change to let someone else, other than the United States, to take the lead.
After May met with her Cabinet, a spokesman issued a statement saying it is highly likely that Syria’s President Bashar Assad was responsible for Saturday’s attack that killed dozens outside Damascus. The Cabinet agreed on the need to “take action” to deter further chemical weapons use by Assad but added that May would continue to consult with allies to coordinate an international response.
Mattis said that although the United States has no hard proof, he believes the Syrian government was responsible for Saturday’s attack. Initial reports indicated the use of chlorine gas, possibly in addition to the nerve agent Sarin.
Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 U.S. ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack “is not yet in the offing.”
Mattis said he personally believes Syria is guilty of an “inexcusable” use of chemical weapons, while noting that the international fact-finding team would likely fall short of determining who was responsible. I personally do not agree with this, as they did find proof in 2017; in fact, they know of 20 times Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people.
“But that’s not all: Assad has used chemical weapons in attacks on Syrians since 2012, and it’s unclear that a US-led punitive strike will take away the regime’s ability to keep using them. “It’s always very difficult to degrade these types of capabilities using airstrikes,” Rebecca Hersman, a former top Pentagon official on weapons of mass destruction (WMD), told me. “It tends to be a temporary process.”
Asked about the risks of U.S. military retaliation, Mattis cited two concerns, starting with avoiding civilian casualties. “On a strategic level, it’s how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that,” he said.
Of course, Mattis is speaking of a possible war between the U.S. and Russia, and this is at the heart of the American people’s fear.
The United States has been warned by Putin that Moscow would view an airstrike on Syria as a war crime, and that it could trigger a direct U.S-Russian military clash. Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon said any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launching sites targeted.
Before I conclude this report, I am checking for updates on this fluid situation again. Here is the latest:
No US Decision On Syria After Trump Agrees With May On Need For Action
Fri, 13th Apr 2018 07:29
WASHINGTON (Alliance News) – No final decision has been made on a US response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, the White House said Thursday after President Donald Trump met with his National Security Council.
“We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Forty-three people were killed in the alleged chemical attack in Douma, once a rebel stronghold outside the capital Damascus, on Saturday, according to rescue organization the White Helmets.
The World Health Organization said 500 patients showed signs of suffering from a chemical attack. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were en route to Syria and would start work in Douma on Saturday.
Downing Street later confirmed the call with May and said the two leaders had agreed that “it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged.”
“They will only say if they found evidence or did not. And as each day goes by – as you know it’s a non-persistent gas – it becomes more and more difficult to confirm it,” the Pentagon chief said.
Al-Assad has warned that potential US-led military action against his country would threaten international peace. “With every victory that is achieved on the battlefield, voices of some Western countries arise and moves are intensified in their attempt to change the course of events,” al-Assad said, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.
“Any potential moves will just contribute to further instability in the region, which threatens international peace and security,” he was quoted as saying at a meeting in Damascus with Ali Akbar Velayati, the Iranian Supreme Leader’s top adviser.
One of al-Assad’s main backers, Russia, said it was keeping a direct line open with Washington to avoid confrontation in Syria.
Meanwhile at the UN, Sweden proposed asking UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to suggest an impartial mechanism to assign blame for chemical weapons use in Syria.
But Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the priority was to “avert the danger of war” between Russia and the US, after a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council.
Russia has called another meeting of the 15-member council on Friday morning in New York.”
Here is some strange news from France.
“Paris won’t announce strikes on Syria in advance if the decision is made, the government spokesman said a day after French President Emmanuel Macron announced he was weighing a military assault on the war-torn country.
“If the government decides to strike [Syria], I won’t tell you, the President of the Republic won’t tell you,” Christophe Castaner said, speaking to BFMTV on Friday. He explained that the strikes won’t be announced publicly as doing so could put the lives of French servicemen intervening in Syria at risk.“
This is an unsettling development from Russia:
“Russian lawmakers have drafted a bill suspending cooperation with US companies in the nuclear, missile and aircraft-building spheres, as well as introducing restrictions on imports of alcohol and tobacco produced in the US.
“The bill is about alcohol and tobacco products and about ceasing or suspending international cooperation in the nuclear sphere, rocket engine building and aircraft building between Russian companies and organizations under US jurisdiction,” one of the bill’s sponsors, MP Ivan Melnikov (Communist Party), was quoted as saying in the State Duma’s Twitter message. “
“The bill charges the government and top officials in Russian regions with the task of developing mechanisms to replace US goods and services on the Russian market. We expect this to become a push for the development of the Russian economy,” Melnikov said.
“At least, we are giving an adequate reply to the United States of America. We are stopping the cooperation with the USA in three very important spheres: the nuclear industry, the aircraft building industry and the rocket engine industry,” the head of the Fair Russia party, Sergey Mironov, said.
This is coming from Sweden:
“The UN Security Council will meet again on Friday to discuss the crisis in Syria, but according to Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, it might be too late to prevent a military strike.”
“According to footage obtained by The Baghdad Post, Assad is held up in the air base in a room with no windows, drapes or Syrian officials.
The Syrian dictator was spotted departing the presidential palace in Damascus accompanied by Russian military units, according to sources.
The Baghdad Post said: “Hezbollah terrorists have also evacuated their positions nearby Tiyas Military Airbase in Homs, Syria, anticipating an imminent US attack.”
Analysts claim Syrian policy is currently run by the Russians and Iranians as Assad cannot make any communication for fear of revealing his location.
The reports as the US have mobilised its forces in preparation to strike Assad forces in Syria.
The US confirmed about 6,500 sailors in the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group had departed from Norfolk.
The aircraft carrier is the lead ship of the strike group which includes guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and the guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 28: USS Arleigh Burke, USS Bulkeley, USS Forrest Sherman and USS Farragut.
There are also reports of military aircraft flying over the Mediterranean towards the Middle East.”