by James Buchanan
During the presidential campaign, Trump suggested that the U.S. and Russia should work together to defeat ISIS in Syria. For the first ten weeks of the Trump presidency it appeared as though we were headed in this direction.
An NBC news article from March 28th reported “Russian and American troops are within ‘hand-grenade range’ of each other in parts of Syria, according to U.S. commanders, an overlap that highlights Moscow’s efforts to bolster its footprint in the Middle East…”
“This tentative cooperation is a result of Russian and American ‘short and midterm interests’ which are ‘are overlapping to a huge extent…'”
“It isn’t known exactly how many Americans are fighting on the ground although the figure is believe to be under 1,000. That number may have been boosted by the arrival of several hundred more in recent weeks to support the battle to route ISIS from Raqqa, the extremists’ de facto capital.”
“The Kremlin has also not said how many Russians are fighting in Syria, although estimates published in the country’s press run into from 1,600 to 4,500.”
While a thousand American troops in Syria may not sound like a lot, many of them were acting as “forward observers” to call in missile strikes and air strikes on any ISIS strongholds. It’s entirely possible that they ran out of targets after several weeks of operations in Syria.
Assuming this was the case, Trump was facing a fork in the road: Does he continue to keep U.S. troops in Syria for years and years or does he find some reason to pull them out with an “exit strategy” that does not make the U.S. look bad?
Then the poison gas attack happens.
The New York Times reported “The bombs fall on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the rebel-held territory of Idlib Province. Video footage of the attack quickly surfaces, showing women and children gasping for breath and foaming at the mouth as they fight the effects of what officials later say is sarin gas, a brutal nerve agent.”
Trump obviously had to react to this new development somehow.
Most of Trump’s supporters were no doubt skeptical of this incident. Ron Paul wrote an article that there was “no chance” that Assad’s forces had deliberately used chemical weapons while on the brink of victory over the ISIS rebels.
The chemical attack may have been a false flag attack carried out by a variety of players including:
1). The nation of Israel, which may prefer that Syria continue to suffer a civil war
2). ISIS may have carried out the attack to demonize the Assad regime,
3). Rogue elements in Assad’s military or
4). A stash of poison gas in the possession of ISIS was accidentally bombed by the Syrians.
Trump reportedly received intelligence that traced a plane back to the airbase, which he later attacked with dozens of Tomahawk missiles.
One thing is certain about the Middle East: It is full of back-stabbers, political intrigue and people, who hate America.
Perhaps, Trump felt that America did enough to fight ISIS over the last ten weeks, and he’s using this poison gas incident as an “exit strategy” to get our forces out of Syria.
It’s possible that the Muslim radicals in Syria were planning an assault on Russian and American troops with poison gas to give America a black eye, much like the Beirut, Lebanon truck bombing in 1983 that killed 241 Americans (mostly Marines) when Reagan was president.
Rather than challenge the way that the mainstream media was portraying the chemical attack in Syria, Trump has apparently decided to accept that version of events (versus running the risk of being called a conspiracy theorist by suggesting something else happened) and he used that incident as an excuse to pull American troops out of the Middle East snake pit, known as Syria, before Muslim radicals got a chance to attack whatever barracks or hotel our soldiers were staying in.
Many Trump supporters are angry and/or confused by this latest incident. If Trump chose to do nothing however, the liberal media would be accusing Trump of “supporting the baby killer Assad.” Trump took remarkably swift action and got our troops out of Syria, where they might have been the targets of a poison gas attack by ISIS. Trump bombed a (reportedly empty) airfield as a token retaliation against Assad based on the claim that his regime had dropped poison gas on the rebels. It seems more likely Assad’s military accidentally bombed a stockpile of poison gas that ISIS may have been planning to use on our troops.
The good news is that our troops are out of Syria, leaving the Russians and the Assad regime to mop up whatever is left of ISIS over there.
Update: A recent news article reports that the Russians stated shortly after the chemical weapons incident in Syria that “That strike hit a depot holding chemical weapons smuggled into the country by terrorist group Al Nusra Front, he said.”
“Russia said that the deaths were caused by the Syrian regime strike on the munitions depot…”
There were reportedly 86 victims of chemical agents, which strongly suggests that this relatively low number of victims was not the result of chemical weapons being dropped by aircraft, but by stockpiled chemical weapons that were damaged by conventional bombs and began to leak.
Syria also reportedly gave up its chemical weapons in 2014 as noted here.