Will Syria be completely destroyed

The Syrian chemical weapons program has been hit hard

The more than 100 missiles did not completely destroy the Syrians' ability to use poison gas. But Washington hopes that the dictator Asad got the message.

According to the Pentagon, the coordinated attack by the USA, France and Great Britain early Saturday morning with more than 100 rockets did not completely destroy the Syrian chemical weapons program, but hit it hard. The aim was to make it unmistakably clear to the Syrian ruler Bashar al-Asad that the use of poisonous gas would not be tolerated. Asad would be well advised to take the message seriously, said UN ambassador Nikki Haley at a special session of the Security Council on Saturday, because America remains ready to fire.

Nice «guarantee» power

The special session in New York was convened by Russia, which, together with Iran, is presenting itself as the protective power of the Syrian regime. Apart from a sometimes bitter verbal argument, the meeting did not lead to anything. A draft resolution, which was supposed to condemn the attack as illegal under international law, had no chance, since all three Western council members had participated in the attack with the right to veto. Only China and Bolivia might side with Moscow.

Russia's role is also particularly shady because it guaranteed in 2013 that Syria no longer had any chemical weapons - obviously a hollow promise. Haley announced new economic sanctions against Russia on Sunday, which should be announced on Monday.

It was by no means a matter of course that Paris and London took part in the attack with their own ships and planes. Since Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the USA, relations have not been without irritation. The allies could face a severe test of endurance as early as next month if Trump, as he has often threatened, withdraws from the nuclear agreement with Iran, to which France, Great Britain and Germany want to adhere.

According to the Pentagon, the targets of the attack - one near Damascus, two near Homs - were chosen not only because of their relevance to the Syrian chemical weapons program. With this - and with the time of the air attack in the early morning - the danger of innocent victims could be kept as low as possible.

Trump celebrated the attack in a Twitter message on Sunday as a perfectly executed action that “did the job”. However, it remained unclear exactly what the mandate was, after all, the same president had recently demanded that others should now deal with the problem of Syria.

No change of direction

Even if some of the most passionate Trump supporters in the US are now moaning that Trump has cowardly betrayed his promise that America will no longer interfere in foreign affairs: The attack on Saturday does not change Trump's fundamental stance. Looking at the matter from a cynical point of view, one might conclude that Asad can massacre his people with impunity as long as he does not use chemical weapons.