US-LED MISSILE ATTACKS ON SYRIA-A DETERRENT. REALLY?

US, France and British air-strikes on Syria are a major Western intervention in the Syrian battlefield The attack on the chemical facilities has been was done by the Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The reports of an attack on research units in Damascus and Homs emerged from Syria concurrent with the speech of President Trump. Additionally, Mezzeh airfield which is considered as a primary Syrian Republican Guard airbase and another facility involved in governmental operations against Eastern Ghouta was attacked. Missiles also struck the mountainous range of Jabal Qassioun which houses army headquarters and other artillery positions instrumental in the latest Syrian campaign on rebel stronghold Ghouta surrounding Damascus. Syrian state media also stated that the regime also launched the anti-aircraft missiles in the response.

The recent strikes are way broader in span than the one which happened in 2017 on Shayrat airbase. This thus points towards the fact that the airstrikes were not limited and not a punitive measure but a deliberate attempt to dismantle the facilities in Syria for averting any future chemical attacks. The attacks have achieved a larger strategic objective of posing a potent challenge to Iranian presence in the region as various Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE have been named as allies with reports of Qatar also supporting by facilitating ground for US B1 bombers used in the airstrikes.

President Trump has stated that the strikes have established a strong deterrent against both production and use of chemical weapons in warfare. The Syrian state television has reported that the facilities had been evacuated days in advance due to a Russian warning and thus nothing much has been achieved on the ground. This may be true but the fact that the intent to send a clear signal to Assad over the use of chemical weapons in future by ignoring the warnings and threats by its major allies Russia and Iran cannot be brushed aside. The attack which is seen as limited can spiral into a retaliatory strike by the allies to save face. The retaliation can lead to the unease of US forces stationed in Middle-East as Iranian militias can attack them and even the possibilities of Cyber attacks cannot be ruled out.

The current scenario has not painted enough space to completely rule out future use of chemical weapons by Syria as one isolated attack cannot act as a sound deterrent. Some analysts have also touched a note about the reasons of Trump intervention against the use of chemical weapons in Syria but never responded to the killing of more number of people by use of conventional methods of warfare. This raises an important debate how an administration can become sensitive to one mode of killing civilians while not caring enough for all others. 8 years, 500,000 people dead yet no end in sight as the world ratifies one mode of killing over others. Latter may be more barbaric but the end is same.

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