By Qasioun News Agency [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Recent developments associated with US foreign policy in the Idlib province in Syria have highlighted a number of issues which are seriously undermining the Trump administration for reasons we will now discuss.
Trump’s latest comments on Twitter where he warned the Syrian government as well as Russia and Iran against an offensive in Idlib citing humanitarian grounds was another spectacular own goal in terms of international relations. Firstly Syria, Russia and Iran have done their upmost to avoid any civilian casualties, in no small part that they open up humanitarian corridors prior to major offensives across many theatres of conflict in this Syrian war. Secondly it is perceived in many quarters to question the US efficacy of finally ending the war in Syria. After all estimates put the number of terrorists in Idlib to be around 10000. Idlib province is one of Syria’s de-escalation zones and is one of the last major strongholds of insurgency in the country.
The fact that Trump’s tweet came on the back of accusations coming out of Washington that they would respond with force, on the back of intelligence reports suggesting Assad was preparing to launch a chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province, continues to raise serious doubts about the US presence in Syria. After all does anyone serious believe that when Assad is on the brink of winning the war in Syria and has the support of the vast majority of his people, he would resort to gassing his own people? There is absolutely zero motive to do so.
Washington readily dismissed Russian intelligence that so called militants were planning to stage a false-flag chemical attack against civilians in Idlib, designed to frame the Assad government. The fact this fell on deaf ears is all the more prescient given the relative silence with regards to investigations in the aftermath of the Douma false-flag chemical weapons fiasco. History continues to repeat itself and yet Washington maintains this steadfast approach which is deeply damaging to its credibility on the international stage.
It is quite clear that the liberation of the Idlib province has been a major priority for Assad and Syrian military operations. Furthermore the warnings by Washington with regards to claims of Assad planning on launching a chemical weapons attack was clearly designed to intimidate Damascus into backing off from launching an offensive in Idlib province.
It is therefore all the more telling that the Syrian foreign ministry stated that warnings by the United States would not affect the determination of the Syrian people and Syrian army’s plans to clear Idlib of the scourge of terrorism which has blighted Syria for seven years.
Subsequent developments in the last few hours clearly demonstrate that US threats now fall on deaf ears as Russia has just launched an intense aerial bombardment with dozens of airstrikes over the southern and western parts of the Idlib Governorate. This will be the prelude to an Assad ground force offensive, presumably this week.
The Kremlin response to Trump’s tweet was predictable and measured when they said, “Just to speak out with some warnings, without taking into account the very dangerous, negative potential for the whole situation in Syria, is probably not a full, comprehensive approach.”
The fact that the Kremlin described the area as a “nest of terrorists” was a clear rebuke to Trump’s accusations of massive civilian casualties. All these events have served to do is undermine the credibility of Trump on the world stage because of the Russian and Syrian immediate response to Washington’s assertions about taking military action in Idlib. However it also will be perceived in some quarters inside the US and its people, that Trump is weak precisely because Russian and Syrian paid no attention to his remarks.
It remains to be seen if Washington decides to play its hand in the event of a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Idlib, especially given the Russian ultimatum, after events in Douma, with regards to what would happen if this should ever occur again. However if Washington is going to pursue such a strategy to its logic conclusion it would be nothing short of crass stupidity with disastrous consequences, far beyond missile strikes on Syria.
The fact that the situation surrounding the militant controlled Syrian province of Idlib will be one of the main items on the agenda at the talks between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents in Tehran later this week speaks volumes, not least because of the absence of any US representation.
There is no doubt that US foreign policy has been hijacked by Neocons inside Washington. Trump would do well to remember that they have zero concerns about what is in the best interests of his presidency and the American people. They serve their own agenda which ultimately could be damaging to Trump’s relations with nations such as China and Russia and ultimately could impact on the mid-terms which are critical to the future of Trump presidency and his capability to take the wrecking ball to the destructive elements within the Beltway.
What is also disturbing and in a broader context is that classic Neocon playbook foreign policy is being sold to the American people under the banner of the Trump administration and is being readily accepted on that basis. History proves this point eloquently and should never be forgotten.