Friday, April 7, 2017

In Syria, The Chemical Attack, A "Red Line" Already Crossed

By militarily striking the Syrian regime after a chemical attack, US President Donald Trump on Thursday took the opposite of his predecessor Barack Obama who, in similar circumstances, had retreated.


On August 21, 2013, the international community has no doubt. The "red line" enacted by Barack Obama has just been crossed, with a chemical weapons raid near Damascus imputed to the Syrian regime.

After the massacre of the Ghouta, an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital where some 1,400 souls are mown - according to US intelligence - by a bombardment with sarin gas, all eyes are turned towards Washington.

Barack Obama, two days later, said he was ready to strike President Bashar al-Assad's army. London and Paris, its main western military allies, support its discourse of firmness. We must punish Bashar al-Assad.

But to the surprise of both the United States and the international scene, he decides to submit this decision to a Congress vote, de facto deferring military action in the short term.

Meanwhile, the former president has taken note of the British ally's backpedaling, after a negative vote by Parliament that excludes any military participation for Britons traumatized by the Iraq war.

Indeed, the United States will never intervene directly against Damascus under the administration of Barack Obama, anxious to maintain the fragile regional geopolitical and military balance.

Instead, Washington agrees with Damascus, following tough negotiations, on the dismantling of the Syrian chemical arsenal, which begins in October 2013.

Under the auspices of the OPCW, the United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, the operation was supposed to These weapons of the government.

- 'proud' -

In the United States and abroad, President Obama's controversial decision places him under criticism, reproaching him for his paralysis on the Syrian issue.

On Wednesday, in the wake of a new chemical attack attributed to Washington's Bashar al-Assad regime, Donald Trump said that his predecessor had some responsibility. "Many lines" have been "crossed" with impunity, blows the boiling millionaire.

He is sure: the attack is "the consequence of the weakness and lack of determination" of the previous administration, which "did nothing" except decree the famous "red line".

President Fran├žois Hollande will also remain bitter for a long time in this American retreat, which will permanently damage relations between the two leaders. France was ready to join the Americans.

Aware of criticism, Barack Obama considered it useful, before leaving the White House mid-January, to return to this episode, and was "proud" of having renounced hitting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

"The perception was then that my credibility was at stake, that the credibility of America was at stake," recalled the former president. "By pressing the pause button at that time, I knew it would have a political cost to me."

"The fact that I was able to take away from the immediate pressure and reflect on what was in America's interest, not only in relation to Syria but also in relation to our democracy, One of the most difficult decisions ever, "he said.

After the raid on Khan Cheikhoun on Tuesday, which killed at least 86, Donald Trump faced the same equation: hitting Damascus with all the risks involved, or maintaining the status quo, even if compared to Barack Obama.

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