World View: World Awaits Trump’s Promised Retaliation for Assad’s Chemical Weapons Attack

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

This morning’s key headlines from

  • The world awaits Trump’s promised retaliation for al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack
  • Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday’s airstrike
  • Turkey to open a new border crossing to Syria’s Afrin
  • Yemen war escalates as Iran-backed Houthis launch missiles at Saudi targets

The world awaits Trump’s promised retaliation for al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack

Survivor of Saturday's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)
Survivor of Saturday’s chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)

President Donald Trump on Sunday had promised retaliation within 24-48 hours for the use of chemical weapons by Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad on Saturday on civilians, including women and children.

However, by Wednesday evening, no retaliation has occurred, and the world is watching and waiting. But the rhetoric between Russia and the U.S. has heated up a great deal.

Alexander Zasypkin, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, said on Wednesday:

If there is a U.S. missile attack, we – in line with both Putin and Russia’s chief of staff’s remarks – will shoot down U.S. rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles.

Zasypkin was alluding to a previous Russian threat to shoot down not only American missiles, but also the warplanes and battleships that launches them.

This only served to goad president Trump, who tweeted this:

Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

However, Trump was more conciliatory in a later tweet:

Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?

Longtime readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

Saturday’s chemical weapons attack by al-Assad has caused a chain reaction that has raised tensions in the Mideast to the next level higher than they had been before Saturday. Here is a summary:

  • Israel and Iran appear headed for a proxy war in Syria.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.
  • The U.S. and Syria are headed for a confrontation in Syria.
  • The U.S. and Russia may be headed for a confrontation in Syria.
  • Turkey and Russia are headed for a confrontation in Syria.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the political divide in the West, including the United States, is getting more hostile, and not just along party lines. It is increasingly hostile to hear American analysts and journalists side with Russia trolls in claiming that there is “no proof” that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons or Sarin gas, in the face of conclusions reached by America, British, French, German and other governments.

Russia has lied repeatedly about Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, and other things, and for an American analyst to side with Russian trolls against multiple Western governments is truly a remarkable development. And as I reported yesterday, this has even extended to the point where Newsweek magazine is publishing easily debunkable fake news the U.S. Secretary of Defense is claiming that no evidence exists that al-Assad ever used Sarin gas.

So let me try to make this clear.

Since the Syrian war began, I have written 359 analytical articles with “Syria” in the title, and hundreds more where Syria was discussed, but not in the title. These articles are all available on my website for anyone to check.

I have an archive of almost 100,000 articles that I have copied and pasted in the last 15 years. Over 3,000 of those articles have “Syria” in the title, and probably tens of thousands more discuss the Syria war. These articles are from all political biases and from all media sources and all countries available on the internet. I typically study 10-20 of these articles in detail for each article that I write.

My point is this: 99.9 percent of the time, I know a lot more than you do. And I am telling you that there is no doubt that Bashar al-Assad has used Sarin gas several times on innocent civilians, and has used chlorine gas, phosphorous and ammonia many, many times on innocent civilians. There is no question about this.

But the fact that some Americans are calling officials in both the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrators liars, and are saying that paid Russian trolls are telling the truth, is truly a remarkable development. Al-Jazeera and CNN and Reuters

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Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday’s airstrike

On Sunday, President Donald Trump threatened a “big price to pay” after the chemical weapons attack by Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad on Douma on Saturday. As I was writing an article about this on Sunday evening, Syria’s state media reported a missile attack on Syria’s T4 airbase (Tayfur airport) near Homs. U.S. officials denied having anything to do with the attack, so it was thought that some other country, perhaps Britain, France, or Israel, might have been fulfilling Trump’s “big price to pay” threat.

Well, news reports since then have indicated that the missile strike on T4 airbase had nothing to do with Trump’s threat, except possibly to influence the timing. According to Iranian media, the attack was from Israeli warplanes.

If it was an Israeli airstrike, then the target was an Iranian drone base. Israel has repeatedly expressed its red lines when it comes to Syria:

  • It will not allow the transfer of high-powered weapons to Hezbollah.
  • It will not allow any breach of Israeli sovereignty.
  • It will work to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in Syria.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied the airstrike, but Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made these comments:

I want to say one thing with absolute certainty. We will not allow the Iranians to base themselves in Syria, no matter what the price. We have no other choice. To agree to the Iranians basing themselves in Syria is like agreeing to Iran putting a noose around our neck.

Iran’s media is reporting that four Iranians were killed by the Israeli airstrikes.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, said:

The Israeli regime’s aggression against Syria is a breach of this country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and runs counter to all international regulations and principles.

Velayati added, “Definitely, this crime (by Israel) will not remain without a response.”

Israeli forces have gone onto high alert, and Israeli media are talking about a “proxy war between Iran and Israel” taking place on Syrian soil:

Beyond the confrontation between Russia and the United States, the main story in the northern arena is the direct confrontation between Israel and Iran on Syrian soil. There is no more shadow war or contest through agents. The confrontation between Israel and Iran, it seems, is turning into a limited direct military confrontation. It is impossible to ignore the fact that within two months, in at least two known incidents, Iranian fighters and officers were killed by an action attributed to the Israeli Air Force. It seems that in light of the continued Iranian consolidation in Syria, Israel has decided to remove the gloves.

After the day of battle two months ago, when the Iranian UAV was intercepted and an Israeli fighter plane was shot down, quite a few things happened underneath the surface, despite the apparent media silence.

Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak said, “When on a given day, the chance for [active military conflict with Iran] are about one percent, now it is about 10 percent.” CNN and Tasnim News (Iran) and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

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Turkey to open a new border crossing to Syria’s Afrin

Turkey on Wednesday announced plans to open a new border crossing from Turkey to the Syrian city of Afrin. The purpose of the border crossing is to speed up delivery of humanitarian aid to the city, and help build infrastructure in the region.

However, the border crossing will also strengthen Turkey’s link to Afrin, which is opposed by Russia, Iran, and Syria.

Turkey’s military Operation Olive Branch took place over several months, with the objective of regaining control of Syria’s border city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered by the U.S. and Europe a terrorist organization, and has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey over a thirty year period.

Now that the operation has been completed, apparently successfully, Russia, Iran, and Syria would all like the Turkish forces to withdraw back into Turkey. Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday:

[Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has never said that Turkey wants to occupy Afrin. We always proceed from the fact that the easiest way to normalize the situation in Afrin now that Turkish representatives say that the main goals they set there have been achieved would be to return the territory under the control of the Syrian government.

However, Erdogan rejected Lavrov’s remarks:

We know very well who we’ll hand Afrin to. First, let’s talk about handing over areas controlled by other countries in Syria to Syria.

When the time comes, we will give Afrin to the people of Afrin personally, but the timing of this is up to us, we will determine it, not Mr. Lavrov.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran have had a three-way alliance of convenience for several months, creating “de-escalation zones” in Syria. However, neither the Syrian regime nor any of the Syrian rebel groups doing the actual fighting were party to the agreements. Whatever the value of that alliance, it appears to be losing whatever little effectiveness it had, and increasingly is fraying, as all the participants in the Syrian war are looking forward to grabbing their respective pieces of Syria. Anadolu (Turkey) and Sputnik (Russia) and Reuters

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Yemen war escalates as Iran-backed Houthis launch missiles at Saudi targets

The Houthi rebels in Yemen declared this to be the “year of ballistic missiles,” after firing ballistic missiles on Wednesday at targets in Saudi Arabia’s capital city Riyadh, and also at oil storage facilities belonging to the Saudi oil company Aramco. The missiles either missed their targets or were shot down by Saudi air defenses, but a successful strike on an oil storage facility could do a great deal of damage.

Last week, Houthi rebels caused minor damage to a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea on Tuesday. The oil tanker was able to continue on its way, escorted by a Saudi coalition warship.

The Houthis are using ballistic missiles and armed drones that could only have been supplied by Iran. Saudi threatened “a heavy price” for the Houthis, and for those who are equipping the Houthis. Al Jazeera and Reuters and Arab News and Deutsche Welle (3-Apr)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Donald Trump, Russia, Alexander Zasypkin, Sergei Lavrov, Israel, Iran, T4 airbase, Tayfur airport, Avigdor Liberman, Ehud Barak, Ali Akbar Velayati, Seyed Ali Khamenei, Turkey, Afrin, Operation Olive Branch, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, People’s Protection Units, YPG, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Yemen, Houthis, Saudi Arabia, Aramco
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