MIDDLE EAST

How will the Syria strikes resonate at the Arab Summit?

Last night’s air strikes by the US, France and the United Kingdom have been announced as a response to the chemical weapons attacks that hit the Syrian people last week in Douma.

Seven years of deadly conflict in Syria has left thousands of civilians facing indescribable suffering and massacre of innocents.

But is this a proportionate response? Well it is difficult to say but the warning shot is indeed obvious. Its Trump’s America will not be content with “Twitter diplomacy”.

This is the second time that the US has intervened in Syria. The previous one was a very limited strike following the Khan Sheikoun episode in April last year.

This time the US is supported by France and the United Kingdom. Emmanuel Macron said it and he did it. The red line of the use of chemical weapons crossed, France intervenes.

However, the question that remains unanswered is why today? While the latest chemical attacks date back a few days? What about the timing, preparation and coordination?  

Arab Summit  

All this might be a coincidence but it is also reasonable to link the timing of the strike with the Arab summit being held today and tomorrow in Saudi Arabia.

This summit, in which Syria is not invited, is expected to meet urgently and might support the strikes and mark the beginning of a new era of foreign policy in the GCC.

The attentive spectators of this region who had predicted a confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia on an external ground at the end of the year could have made believe that Lebanon would pay for this war, and it is Syria which offers today to Saudi Arabia the opportunity to strike indirectly but surely at the Iranian regime via its allies and ground troops.

The France-UK-US coalition strikes resonate as a counter-power to the talks held for a way out of the Syrian crisis last week in Astana between Presidents Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani.

The attentive spectators of this region who had predicted a confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia on an external ground at the end of the year could have made believe that Lebanon would pay for this war, and it is Syria which offers today to Saudi Arabia the opportunity to strike indirectly but surely at the Iranian regime via its allies and ground troops

Nathalie Goulet



A response to the murderous actions of the Syrian president was also on the agenda of Wednesday’s talks between the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Emmanuel Macron.

There is no doubt that at each of the recent GCC diplomatic visits to the West, the officials recalled the dangers resulting from Iran’s policy of interference in the region and in particular in the Syrian file.

Hezbollah would have 5,000 to 8,000 combatants present around Damascus, eastern Ghouta, Aleppo, Kuneitra, near the Golan, and the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

According to information published by Radio France Internationale, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards evacuated their positions in Al-Chaayrate and T4 military aerodromes in the central province of Homs, where they had deployed a squadron of drones.

Nor would it be surprising that the Arab summit in Saudi Arabia offers GCC and the Arab world a platform to develop its strategy of supporting countries that have intervened in Syria.  

Financial and logistical support  

It remains to know the reactions of Syria and its allies in the face of the air strikes. The allies of the Syrian regime will count on the weakness in their eyes of the democracies that “clutter” in view of their criteria of institutional processes to engage in a conflict.

In fact, past the shocking images of child victims of chemical attacks, an open conflict in Syria would be a risky and expensive adventure.

Western countries now are openly supported by Saudi Arabia, and can the Arab countries meeting at the summit, go beyond? Can they help break the deadlock of the Security Council to act?

Are they going to finally bury the UN whose inefficiency is well established! While the United Nations does not resolve any conflict - the Middle East has been torn apart for more than a century is proof - the fact remains that it is the only existing international institution.

The illegal war of 2003 in Iraq had given a two-fold stroke of shock to the institution! The intervention in Syria, for legitimate reasons that is apparent for many of us, must be part of a UN framework.

This is undoubtedly the moment to open a new page in the reorganization of this institution which in the present state answers only partially to the needs of a world which has never been so unstable and unpredictable but which has the merit of existing as the fragile bulwark of a moribund state of international law.

_______________________
Nathalie Goulet is a member of the Senate of France, representing the Orne department. She is a member of the Union of Democrats and Independents and sits with the political group of the Centrist Union. Nathalie is also a member of the commission of Foreign Affairs and Defense Forces. She tweets @senateur61.

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Last Update: Sunday, 15 April 2018 KSA 01:07 - GMT 22:07
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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