The United States military took decisive action early Thursday morning through launching a total of 59 precision guided Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting a Syrian airbase north of Damascus.
This site was believed to be used by Bashar Assad to carry out a horrific chemical weapons attack last Tuesday, leaving more than 500 killed and injured in Idlib Province of northwest Syria. Entire families were devastated, such as Abdulhamid al-Yussof, who lost 25 members of his family, including his wife and 9-month twin babies, Ahmed and Aya.
US President Donald Trump ordered the military strike, carried out by two US warships, the USS Porter and USS Ross, prior to his meeting with the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida, possibly also sending a message also to North Korea about its nuclear ambitions.
More importantly, however, this strike, signaling a major shift in US policy, will be viewed as a strong message to Iran, being the main supporter of Assad regime throughout span of this atrocious six-year carnage against innocent civilians. And this turn of events couldn’t have arrived at a more critical timing, only weeks prior to Iran’s presidential election. Tehran will need to carefully evaluate the road ahead.
The very nature of the US attack, taking place at 3:40 am local time when minimum activity at the Shayrat airbase was expected, the fact that Washington had at least to some extent informed Moscow of its intentions prior to the strike, and the effort put in at the United Nations Security Council to obtain international consensus shows the objective was to deliver a political message to Assad, Iran and all other parties involved in Syria.
Reports indicate many hardened hangers and fueling stations at the airbase were destroyed. A more important statistic was also reported indicating Assad lost 9 to 14 Sukhoi warplanes, an asset fortunately very difficult for this regime to replace. Additionally, General Khalil Ebrahim, one of Assad’s senior commanders, was killed in the strike along with a number of other Syrian regime troops involved in the horrific Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack.
Following eight years of devastating inaction by the Obama administration, partly due to its seeking to seal a highly flawed deal supposedly intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program, the global community has made its position loud and clear by voicing support for this measure against Assad.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francoise Hollande issued a joint statement supporting the US missile strike. Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said his country understands the reasoning behind this military move by the US, and British Defense Minister Michael Fallon described the action quite necessary.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry also fully approved the strike against Assad’s military targets. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley voiced strong words in the Security Council on Friday, saying Iran also bears heavy responsibility in Assad’s chemical attack after supporting the ruthless Syrian dictator for years.
“Getting Assad out is not the only priority,” Haley said in a Sunday interview with CNN. “What we are trying to do is obvious defeat ISIS. Secondly, we don’t see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there. Thirdly, get the Iranian influence out. And then finally, move towards a political solution.”
Representing a rare bipartisan measure, a significant number of Democrat and Republic senators in the US on Friday presented a bill to punish the Syrian regime for its war crimes.
Senators Bob Corker, Ben Cardin, Marco Rubio, Jeanne Shaheen, Robert Menendez and Todd Young introduced the “Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act”, instructing the US Secretary of State to “report on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria, and authorize assistance for investigations and other credible transitional justice efforts, including a potential hybrid tribunal, to hold Assad and his regime accountable for their heinous acts.”
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa backed the attack on Assad’s airbase, adding Thursday’s attack was a clear warning to Iran and all states supporting Assad in massacring innocent people.
Iran left terrified
Being caught completely off guard after enjoying 8 years of Obama’s unrestrained appeasement, Iran has found itself cornered after the recent US precision air strike against its Syrian puppet.
The road ahead for Tehran is now quite complex, to say the least. One so-called expert best depicted Iran’s utter fear in an interview with Iranian state TV saying, “I hope the US brings this to a halt and resolves this issue through diplomatic agreements.”
The semi-official Fars news agency, voicing the position of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), shed light on another aspect of Iran’s concerns. “The Syrian coalition… welcomed the strike and called for the continuation of such attacks,” the wire reads.
Ever since US President Donald Trump came to the White House, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan have called for the elimination of Assad and increasing sanctions against Iran, according to the Iran Online website. Turkey welcomed the military action against Assad and once again placed forward its plans to immediately impose a no-fly zone over Syria.
While reports indicate the presence of IRGC elements in Shayrat, the White House announced Trump is discussing with other world leaders the possibility of establishing a safe zone in Syria, according to Iran’s Entekhab website. Reports indicate the Pentagon is also providing Trump with plans on attacking Syria and setting Assad aside, the post continued.
This attack couldn’t have come at a worse timing for Iran. To resolve the Syrian crisis the international community needs to expel Iran from the Levant and move forward by first designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
Already concerned about the possibility of its powder keg society exploding into nationwide protest similar to that of 2009, Tehran has now suffered a major setback in Syria.
Evicting Iran from the Levant is “indispensable to bringing peace and tranquility to, and removing fundamentalism and terrorism from the region and the world,” according to a statement released by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Looking into the near future, Iran’s presidential election, read selection, is scheduled for May 19th. Knowing the Sharyat airbase strike by the US has sealed Washington’s change in policy and attitude, Tehran is left devastated and seeking desperate measures to maintain face, especially inside the country.
Disclaimer - This author is writing under a pseudonym to protect his identity.
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