Friday 28 July 2017

Trump's strike is a timely reminder

President Donald Trump speaks after the US fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Photo: AP
President Donald Trump speaks after the US fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Photo: AP
Editorial

Editorial

Donald Trump's decision to launch a missile attack against the Assad regime in Syria was widely supported, with criticism coming only from the Russians, the Iranians and some disgruntled US Democrats who complained mostly about Congress being kept out of the loop.

The sight of children gasping for life after being subjected to a horrific chemical weapons attack would move any but the hardest of heart. And it moved President Trump to reverse his policy of letting the Syrians sort out Syria and allow the Russians free rein in the Middle East as long as they kept attacking Isil and al-Qaeda. But the big question we are left with now is, what next?

The US still has allies all over the Middle East, from Israel and Jordan to Saudi Arabia, but it has made little use of that influence for several years now. President Obama maintained a stance that said Assad must go but did little to make that happen. He drew a red line on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime but failed to follow up on his threat in 2013 when Assad deployed sarin gas against his own people, killing 1,400, and repeated this ghastly exercise again last year. In effect, America created a vacuum in the Middle East which Russia was only too willing to fill. Now at least a worthwhile message has gone out that America is no longer willing to stand idly by. But was this an emotional gut-reaction one-off or a change of policy?

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