Did Syria strikes kill any chance of diplomacy?

Elias Hubbard
April 16, 2018

President Donald Trump has informed Congress in writing of his decision to order a US missile strike against Syria.

Under the War Powers Resolution, the president must keep Congress informed of such actions.

Over the weekend, the UN Security Council came together for an emergency vote on Friday night's missile attack on Syria, ordered by Donald Trump (who advised Obama against such warfare back in 2013).

USA leader Trump exclaimed "Mission Accomplished" after the pre-dawn strikes that lit up the sky around Damascus in a tweet that drew swift derision from his critics and parallels with president George W. Bush's notoriously premature Iraq war victory speech on an aircraft carrier 15 years ago.

The most robust attack might have reportedly included strikes on Russian air defense in Syria and some Iranian facilities with the aim to curb the capabilities of the Syrian government army, without touching the "political machinery" of President Bashar Assad.

He says European Union foreign ministers will meet Monday to discuss the situation and put forward proposals for steps going forward.

Germany didn't join the United States, Britain and France in the strikes, though Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the attack "necessary and appropriate".

French President Emmanuel Macron says France wants to launch a diplomatic initiative over Syria that would include Western powers, Russian Federation and Turkey.

He said "ten days ago President Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria". "We convinced him it was necessary to remain there", he said.

A poster of US President Donald Trump is set on fire during a protest against western air strikes on Syria, in Simferopol, Crimea April 15, 2018.

The strikes themselves were not about regime change or forcing Assad to negotiate, but about deterring the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, which remains free to kill Syrians with conventional methods.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley explained the military action was "justified, legitimate and proportionate".

"We have complete global legitimacy to act in this framework", Macron said in an interview broadcast by BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news.

Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, also an Assad ally, that any new Western strikes in Syria would provoke "chaos in global relations", a Kremlin statement said.

The French leader said the allies were forced to act without an explicit United Nations mandate because of the "constant stalemate of the Russians" in the Security Council.

Although Israel has at times urged stronger U.S. involvement against Assad and his Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah reinforcements in Syria, it voiced backing for Saturday's air strikes by Western powers.

"Damascus came out more powerful and Bashar al-Assad is more than ever an Arab and global leader", the pro-regime Al-Watan daily wrote.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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