Syrians are calling it a “Triple Assault”, alluding it to the Suez Crisis of 1956 when Britain, France and Israel collectively hit Egypt.

We may say this is Syrians calling up the Arab World pushing them to understand what really is taking place -which is similar to what happened in 1956: an attempt to throttle the independent will of Middle East.

We witnessed another example of Global Insolence at the early hours of the weekend when U.S., acting in cohorts with two historically imperialist European powers, the UK and France hit Syria with missiles. Syria was punished for the chemical attack that took place on April 7 in Eastern Ghouta, something they may just as well not be responsible for. The Western powers did not even bother to wait for UN’s fact-finding OPCW initiative to arrive before launching their attack. And the very incident that Syria was reprimanded for is one that even US Defense secretary James Mattis had to confess about not having all the necessary evidence for the presence of chlorine or sarin. The trio didn’t even care that Duma, where the chemical attack took place, is controlled by the Islamic Army -a militia sponsored by the Saudis and started by Zahran Alloush -a.k.a Chemical Alloush who had previously gassed the Kurds in Sheikh Maqsoud. What the British and the French report as evidence, is nothing more than a collection of articles and social media posts which are mostly put out by the White Helmets -a jihadi Salafi organization. This is nothing more than a parody that will make the humanity go “Wow!” once the truth comes out.

When the U.S. hit Shayrat Base for the chemical incident at Khan Shaykhun, it was acting alone. This time, they have decided to take in some partners in crime, and who better to do it with than the UK and France -whom the US has already turned Iraq and Afghanistan into hell with. They have hit multiple targets. Pentagon says they targeted three locations: the scientific research center in Barzeh; the Shinshar chemical weapons storage in Homs; and another chemical weapons storage around the same area.

French President Macron said these strikes have thrown back Assad’s chemical weapons capacity at least a few years. Mattis said Assad’s chemical facilities were run to the ground with no traces of chemicals spreading in the air. I guess experts will have the final say on this. But we must not forget that these three facilities were all audited by OPCW.

According to Pentagon, 105 missiles have hit their target without being hit by a single rocket launched from Syrian Air Defense System. Russian General Staff, however, painted a different picture of the situation, saying that Syrian Air Defense Systems had stopped 71 missiles. They have released the following numbers indicating the location of missiles launched and intercepted:

Duvali: 4/4; Dumeir: 12/12; Blay: 18/18; Shayrat: 12/12; Mezze: 9/5; Homs: 16/13; Barzah and Jaramana: 30/7.

Russians further state that the facilities in Barzah and JAramana were not even in use, and Mezze base which took the most hits was abandoned.

Syrians are calling it a “triple assault”, alluding it to the Suez Crisis of 1956 when Britain, France and Israel collectively hit Egypt. We may say this is Syrians calling up the Arab World pushing them to understand what really is taking place -which is similar to what happened in 1956: an attempt to throttle the independent will of Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey were “pleased” with the western attack, while many other Arab countries and organizations condemned it -including the Hamas were forced by Doha and Ankara to turn their back on Assad. This shows that things have changed since the last time around.

*

The U.S. and its partners had completely different outcomes in mind when they briefly toyed with the idea of World War 3. Trump, with Iran and Russia in his crosshairs had already gone a bit too far. Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman who had already been hosted by London, Washington and Paris as the new leader of the Middle East was talking about joining the operation with his allies. The way they spoke about the imminent attack was such that it would obliterate Syrian military, punish Russia for her greed in the Middle East, downgrade Iran and her influence in the region, and with any luck, strike a blow to Hezbollah in the meantime.

But they weren’t ready to face Russia’s hard stance which could, indeed, pave the way for a World War. In addition, Germany and other Western powers did not play into their game causing a dent in Trump’s coalition effort which forced him to conduct a limited, one-time assault and hope for the best. According to the US press reports, Mattis was seriously worried about a confrontation with Russia and Iran, which made him narrow down the target list. Trump wasn’t happy with that. National Security Advisor John Bolton was with Trump on this; he was pushing for a destructive hit on Assad. Trump had to give in to Mattis’ reduced target list. Mattis, after the operation, said they chose the targets that would not infuriate Russia.

The Israelis complained about the lack of oomph in the attack while Turkey, who was recently playing the role of the “anti-imperialist”, said the assault was positive but inconclusive. Turkey’s stance with the attack will no doubt blur the photo-op of just a few days ago: the one with Turkey, Russia and Iran smiling and shaking hands.

*

What exactly is achieved by the limited assault and the unlimited war of words? Will it have any effect on the immediate future of Syria?

The U.S. and his allies have -at best- managed to save the day with a single shot assault without having to face a confrontation with Russia. It would be far-fetched to assume that the attack will produce any meaningful change in Syria. Russia has already declined offers to use its influence on Assad. In 2013, when a chemical attack on a much larger scale was unleashed in East Ghouta, president Obama had readied his military attack plans but had, at the last minute, accept Russia’s proposal to stop at destroying Assad’s chemical weapons cache. Back then, the US was banking on a strike and the march of oppositional forces to bring down Damascus. Now the situation has changed. Eastern Ghouta was already under regime control. The Islamic Army was already on its way out of Duma, which was the last point of resistance in the area against Assad. That means, there is no opposition to march towards Damascus now. Syrian Army is eyeing Daraa and Idlib for their next takeover objectives. There is no evidence of deterrence caused by the triple assault.

What we are seeing is the strengthening of Assad’s domestic situation by such attacks. We can see how operations like this, especially when they are conducted under a “humanitarian” guise, are getting more and more damning reactions. Many countries and organizations who used to turn a blind eye towards such attacks are starting to speak out. And this is helping Syria’s and Assad’s cause.

The U.S. and its allies were clearly hoping to impair Iran and Hezbollah as well. But its results are far from achieving anything close to this goal. Syria still has many junctions to navigate through. The allies may choose to keep the military rhetoric alive in order to pressure Assad as well as Russia to use her influence on Iran. They may even try and use it as a bargaining tool in future negotiations. But one thing they cannot do with the triple assault is revive hopes of a regime change in Syria.

Published in Turkish in https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/yazarlar/2018/04/15/kuresel-kustahligin-yuzunu-kurtaran-105-salvo/