President Trump has ordered military action directly against the Syrian Government for the first time. More than 50 Tomahawk missiles launched from a US Naval base have struck Shayrat Airfield in West Syria.
This comes after Donald Trump reversing his administration’s rhetoric on Syria, from Assad’s removal “no longer being a priority”, to berating former President Barack Obama for ignoring the tyrant’s crossing of a “red line” on chemical weapons. Meanwhile, officials spoke of all options being on the table, regarding a response to the chemical weapons massacre in Idlib.
Analysts have assumed this was to maximise the element of surprise, in order to do optimal damage to undefended regime air bases.
Amongst all of this, Trump has assigned his son-in-law, Jared Kushner with the task, among much other homework, of restoring peace to the Middle East. In order to achieve this, two issues must be settled: the Syrian Civil War, and the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Assad’s Syrian regime has long been as greater an obstacle to peace as ISIS, larger in both the scale of its slaughter of innocent civilians, human rights violations and war crimes, and only being eclipsed in media coverage and publicity. The path to peace may require the violent removal of a dictator who has exercised unlimited violence and horror to hold onto power.
President Trump may also be making himself known to other nations, from North Korea to Iran, that he will make good on his threats, unlike his predecessor.
This will, however, confuse the Muslim world over the new President’s attitudes towards them and his priorities in the Middle East: whether they are the interests of Russia and their ally Assad, his interests in the Gulf States, or if, in his own weird way, he truly desires peace in the long-term.
We may only have a better idea in the aftermath of this airstrike, when Russia, Syria and Iran decide how to respond to the Supreme Commander’s latest action.