Monday, April 9, 2018

The past 48 hours of big Syria news explained Why Trump might be about to attack Syria — again.

The past 48 hours of big Syria news explained

Why Trump might be about to attack Syria — again.
La Syrie a utilisé des armes chimiques contre ses propres citoyens, tuant au moins 42 adultes et enfants. Le président Donald Trump a menacé une réponse militaire dans un tweet, promettant que le dictateur syrien Bachar al-Assad paierait un "grand prix". Les avions israéliens ont bombardé une base gouvernementale syrienne dans le nord de la province de Homs pour des raisons qui ne sont pas encore claires.

Et tout cela s'est déroulé en 48 heures seulement. Et une grève américaine - le «grand prix» de Trump - pourrait encore se produire.

Le nouveau conseiller à la sécurité nationale, John Bolton, un uberhawk bien connu, a commencé son travail lundi matin juste avant une réunion du Cabinet à 11h30. Le président Trump a promis de prendre la décision d'utiliser ou non la force dans les prochaines 24 à 48 heures, appelant même le président russe Vladimir Poutine par son soutien à Assad. Bolton pourrait être une voix forte et puissante préconisant une grève américaine.

Il se passe donc beaucoup de choses, même selon les normes du conflit syrien exceptionnellement compliqué. Ce qui suit est un guide sur ce qui s'est passé ce week-end, pourquoi les événements sont si importants, et, surtout, les choses effrayantes qui pourraient arriver ensuite.

Pourquoi l'attaque des armes chimiques de samedi est si importante
The Syrian civil war has been raging since 2011, and with a truly dazzling number of local and international players involved in the fighting. But the central conflict has always been between Bashar al-Assad’s government and a ragtag coalition of anti-Assad rebels — and for the past two and a half years, it’s clear that Assad has been winning.
Recent Russian air support, paired with longstanding on-the-ground interventions by Iranian and proxy militia forces, are the main reasons why. Since the beginning of the Russian intervention in September 2015, Assad has steadily retaken territory; major rebel strongholds, like the city of Aleppo, have fallen to regime forces. “Assad won his war to stay in power,” Mara Karlin, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, concluded in February congressional testimony.
A central part of the Assad-Russia-Iran strategy has been deliberate punishment of civilian population centers in order to sap rebels and their civilian supporters of their will to fight. Jennifer Cafarella, an expert at the Institute for the Study of War, described the strategy as “siege, starve, and surrender” in a February interview with Vox. Assad has deployed chemical weapons, which are an especially spectacular and cruel way of killing people, as part of this campaign of terror.
What makes this weekend’s strike on Douma, a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, different is its scale of the attack. Assad has used various kinds of chemical weapons dozens of times; most attacks are met with a collective shrug by the international community. But large-scale deployment of such weapons against civilian-populated areas have twice provoked threats of war from the United States; once in 2013 and again last April.
In 2013, President Barack Obama threatened to intervene in the conflict after Syria crossed his “red line” of chemical weapons use. He backed down from his threats after Syria agreed to a Russian-brokered effort to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile — an agreement whose implementation has clearly been less than complete.
In April 2017, President Trump launched cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase after a chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed more than 80 people. The goal was both to punish Assad and to send a signal that any future chemical attacks would be met with force from the US. Clearly, that didn’t work as planned either.
So now we’re in a situation where the United States either launches another round of strikes or risks looking like a paper tiger when it comes to Assad’s continued use of chemical weapons.
A grim irony is that provoking this crisis probably wasn’t very smart on Assad’s part. He almost certainly would have retaken Douma without using chemical weapons, and could likely have killed the same number of civilians with standard bombs without any kind of international uproar. Now, one of the very few things that could pose a serious threat to Assad at this point — American intervention — is back on the table.
“The Russians and Iranians are probably pissed at Assad for using chemical weapons again,” says Ilan Goldenberg, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Israel’s strike muddies the water

The Sunday airstrike on T4, a Syrian military base in the western Homs province, initially seemed like the promised US response. That morning, President Trump had threatened Syria with retaliation, and them a major airbase was hit. Syrian government news said it was “American aggression”:
The Syrian civil war has been raging since 2011, and with a truly dazzling number of local and international players involved in the fighting. But the central conflict has always been between Bashar al-Assad’s government and a ragtag coalition of anti-Assad rebels — and for the past two and a half years, it’s clear that Assad has been winning. Recent Russian air support, paired with longstanding on-the-ground interventions by Iranian and proxy militia forces, are the main reasons why. Since the beginning of the Russian intervention in September 2015, Assad has steadily retaken territory; major rebel strongholds, like the city of Aleppo, have fallen to regime forces. “Assad won his war to stay in power,” Mara Karlin, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, concluded in February congressional testimony. A central part of the Assad-Russia-Iran strategy has been deliberate punishment of civilian population centers in order to sap rebels and their civilian supporters of their will to fight. Jennifer Cafarella, an expert at the Institute for the Study of War, described the strategy as “siege, starve, and surrender” in a February interview with Vox. Assad has deployed chemical weapons, which are an especially spectacular and cruel way of killing people, as part of this campaign of terror. What makes this weekend’s strike on Douma, a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, different is its scale of the attack. Assad has used various kinds of chemical weapons dozens of times; most attacks are met with a collective shrug by the international community. But large-scale deployment of such weapons against civilian-populated areas have twice provoked threats of war from the United States; once in 2013 and again last April. In 2013, President Barack Obama threatened to intervene in the conflict after Syria crossed his “red line” of chemical weapons use. He backed down from his threats after Syria agreed to a Russian-brokered effort to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile — an agreement whose implementation has clearly been less than complete. In April 2017, President Trump launched cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase after a chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed more than 80 people. The goal was both to punish Assad and to send a signal that any future chemical attacks would be met with force from the US. Clearly, that didn’t work as planned either. So now we’re in a situation where the United States either launches another round of strikes or risks looking like a paper tiger when it comes to Assad’s continued use of chemical weapons. A grim irony is that provoking this crisis probably wasn’t very smart on Assad’s part. He almost certainly would have retaken Douma without using chemical weapons, and could likely have killed the same number of civilians with standard bombs without any kind of international uproar. Now, one of the very few things that could pose a serious threat to Assad at this point — American intervention — is back on the table. “The Russians and Iranians are probably pissed at Assad for using chemical weapons again,” says Ilan Goldenberg, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. Israel’s strike muddies the water
The Sunday airstrike on T4, a Syrian military base in the western Homs province, initially seemed like the promised US response. That morning, President Trump had threatened Syria with retaliation, and them a major airbase was hit. Syrian government news said it was “American aggression”: