The US, UK, and France launched a 30 minute attack on Syria for an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian military on Islamist militants in the small city of Douma, just 9km away from the capital Damascus. The attack was a failure, nevertheless, since the Syrian air defences destroyed 70% of the launched missiles, while the rest targeted empty governmental research facilities, that the three nations claimed had chemical arsenals inside of them, and declared “mission accomplished”. In military logic, it would seem absurd for both, action and reaction, to be true.
Firstly, the alleged chemical attack would be a disaster for the Syrians living in the capital for many reasons, most importantly wind currents that would carry chemical fumes from the attack site in Douma towards Damascus, endangering over 5 million, including military and political officials.
Moreover, the Syrian army had launched, last month, an offensive on Eastern Ghouta – where Douma is located – to take back control of it from extremist Salafist groups such as “Jaish al Islam” (Islam Army), Ahrar al Sham (the free of Sham), and Faylaq al Sham (Sham brigade). The militant-filled area was a constant danger to the capital ever since the crisis started in 2011, when several neighbourhoods in old Damascus were targeted with mortars, killing dozens. The most recent mortar attack was on the 19th of March when two women died and four were injured. 11 were killed and 50 were injured a month before.
The offensive was successful in driving the opposition militants further towards the northern areas of Ghouta, which means away from Damascus, and eventually led to an agreement between both sides whereby the militants would give in their weapons and leave on buses towards Idlib, northern Syria, alongside their comrades who had been part of the agreement before in different parts of Syria. It was the turn of the militants in Douma, who, eventually, surrendered and agreed on departing the city towards Jarablus, northern Syria.
The Syrian army has advanced strategically in areas neighbouring the capital; why would the government bomb the area with internationally prohibited weapons of mass destruction, which the OPCW has proven that the Syrian government got rid of in 2013, and spark international outrage against Syria? That would be an insane move by the victor.
Secondly, the three nations, UK, US, and France, have not yet provided any tangible proof of the alleged chemical attack, and their representatives in the UN Security Council and in their respective foreign ministries said that the only proof they had were “videos by sources that went viral”, mainly by the group known as the White Helmets who always appear wherever there’s an alleged chemical attack, such as in Ghouta in 2013, Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, and now Douma 2018. These attacks happen whenever the Syrian army in gaining ground against the armed opposition in key areas, like in 2013 when the army was advancing in areas bordering Lebanon such as Qalamoun and Zabadani that are geographically strategic for any military attack on the capital. In 2017, the Syrian army was on its way to liberating all of Aleppo, the economic capital of Syria, and now in 2018 the liberation of Eastern Ghouta will provide extra safety and stability for Damascus.
This reminded people of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 that ousted former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, yet caused instability and the spread of terrorist groups; all because of an allegation that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be false information and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destabilised a country, and tore apart the social bonds of several religious and ethnic groups.
The three countries have claimed that strikes against Syria were “precise and deterred any possible future chemical attacks by the Syrian regime on its people again” as UK prime minister, Theresa May, claimed in her speech one day after the strike. But if the attack hit the chemical arsenal of the Syrian army, wouldn’t that spread chemical substances in the struck areas? Thus endangering thousands, possibly millions of people living near the targets? Especially the research center in Barza, which is only a few kilometers away from the capital. Any explosion there would be a human catastrophe for the people residing nearby.
This article isn’t written to expose the lies of the political elite, nor is it a letter in defence of the Syrian government. The war on Syria has been destabilising the Middle East as a whole, especially Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan, as well as European nations who have suffered from terrorist attacks and social turmoil due to the huge influx of refugees to the continent. Thus any rushed action based on pure emotion, or financial/ political benefits, or even diverting public opinion from internal problems towards major global events, would be a complete disaster, not only for Syria, but for the region itself. The invasion of Iraq was akin to throwing a stone into a pond, the ripples of which reached several neighbouring countries. Syria is akin to throwing a boulder into the pond, where the splash can reach countries further afield that aren’t even on the same continent.
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This post was written by Mohamad Kleit