US, France & UK Syria air strikes: a political smoke screen
Arguably, some may say that the recent air strikes coordinated by the US, France, and the UK is in the name of chemical weapons after the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma. What if that wasn’t actually the real reason for those strikes? It seems coincidental that the three ‘allies’ carry out air strikes on an alleged chemical weapons attack when an ex Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, was poisoned along with his daughter in Salisbury, UK.
Ex Russian spy poisoning
We know that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned with Novichok nerve agent, a powerful, lethal weapon originating from the Soviet times. The nerve agent is more powerful than other nerve agents like VX. That poisoning took place on UK soil at a time of heightened tensions between the Russian Federation and the West. We know the outcome of that poisoning was the UK concluded that they were poisoned by Russians.
Russian Diplomats expulsion
As a result, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats from UK soil and Russian responded with a reciprocal expulsion. The expulsions continued with the US expelling 60 diplomats and closing the Russian Consulate in Seattle, a strategic move made out of hacking or other intelligence breach fears. We know that Boeing and other companies have HQ or large presence in Seattle, so it makes some sense out of that paranoia to close the Consulate. Naturally, Russia responded with a reciprocal expulsion and offered Russians a choice of closing the US consulate in one of four cities.
Syria running in parallel
We know the civil war in Syria has raged on for the last 7 years with President Assad and Ba’ath Party, Russia, and Iran on one side, the Syrian opposition, US, France, Saudi Arabia, and the UK on the other side, and ISIS in there too. There are some other players, but these are the biggest ones. Immediately, we can see the battles lines being drawn with East vs West; old foes meeting again — Russia vs. US, Iran vs. US. There is an immediate political clash specifically with the two superpowers of Russia and the US backing two opposing sides.
It’s well known that Russia has ‘won’ in Syria or at least has a strong political advantage. Its intervention in 2015 backing the Syrian regime not only strengthened the regime’s presence, but also legitimised its presence in the conflict. Further, the Kremlin has jockeyed Russia into not only a win in Syria, but a more prominent, bolder voice on the international stage.
At the same time, troubles in the Middle East between two heavy weights, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have continued. It’s well known that the two MEA super powers aren’t friends and are supported by two who oppose each other — Russia and the USA, respectively. The ideological differences have also caused political rifts and tensions within the MEA region that spill into Syria.
Allies’ political trouble at home
Each of the three countries, so called the ‘Allies’ in this piece, have political trouble at home. Of course, trouble doesn’t sound good, but it really has a bad compounding effect here. The compound effect is not only do they need to preserve ‘Western values and democracy’, but also work towards securing their re-election bids.
Let’s take a brief look at each one;s trouble briefly:
France: Emmanuel Macron has enacted tough labour reforms — first making it easier to hire and fire, and second reforming the labour contracts of employees at SNCF (French railway company). Corporate France has not received these structural labour reforms very well, and the Unions haven’t either. As a result, his presidency has seen gains economically by his decisions yet his popularity rating stands at 35%.
UK: Theresa May has found herself in quite the pickle with Brexit looming and not looking particularly positive. In addition, she called a snap election which saw a defeat for Conservatives and a tie up with the DUP of Northern Ireland. The result is further difficulty with tough Brexit negotiations specifically on the question of the Irish border — more on that another time.
USA: Donald Trump is embroiled in a scandal that he had an affair with a porn star Stormey Daniels, tumultuous cabinet with high profile firings and resignations, and a sharp turn to authoritarianism. Furthermore, immigration has been a hot topic specifically with the suspension of DACA.
The choice of air strikes comes at an opportune time where their troubles are in the shadow of a greater cause in the name of humanity and purifying the world of terrorism.
I would go as far to say that the UK is the one who motivated these strikes. In part due to the ex Russian spy poisoning in the UK, but also as a means to defend its decision to expel Russian diplomats and the current mired, murky situation that Brexit brings. We all know that May needs to please Brussels specifically Jean-Claude Juncker, but she needs to please her coalition partner, Arlene Foster and the DUP, while appeasing the British people.
Now, we are arrive to the air strikes that took place yesterday.
Syrian air strikes
Considering all of the above points, it seems plausible that the strikes were merely a smoke screen to cover up the real problems at home. We know that Syria is in a crisis, but politically the battle lines have been drawn. The trouble is that the Allies took on these strikes at time when it’s already too late. The intervention could have come sooner at a time when the conflict may have been different. I am not advocating that the intervention earlier would have made a different — that’s too far of an overarching assumption.
It’s merely a conclusion that timing is really everything.
So the question comes — where do we go from here? I don’t think that question is entirely clear. What’s clear is that the Assad regime and his Ba’ath Party have won. Now, it’s difficult to say whether or not there will be further intervention by either of these three countries. Only time will tell.
Finally, it’s clear that Assad is not going anywhere any time soon.
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