The recent chemical attack on the Syrian people in Douma has brought the United States to a crossroads regarding the war in Syria.
Prior to the chemical attack in Syria, the United States had announced that they would be withdrawing from the country, as ISIS appears to be defeated. Yet, this recent chemical attack could be seen as the action that keeps the U.S. engaged in Syria.
“The President has been clear. We’re working with our partners and allies and our national security team to look at all options,” said Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary. “All options are on the table but I’m not going to get ahead of what the President may or may not do.”
U.S. President Trump has spoken with key allies in the past few days, including the President of France Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Trump had indicated on Monday that he would make a decision regarding the U.S. response to Syria’s chemical attack within 48 hours. He also indicated that those responsible for the attack needed to be held accountable for their actions.
In the meantime, the U.S. and Russia are working against each other through the UN. It is clear that Russia is protecting its ally in Assad, but the results of several resolutions are that the Syrian people remain in limbo.
Russia vetoed a U.S.-drafted UN resolution that condemned the suspected gas attack in Douma and established a body to determine responsibility for the Syrian chemical weapons attacks.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley indicated that the United States reached out to Russia to ensure that the new legislative body would be impartial, independent, and professional. Russia’s response was that the resolution was written to fail, so the U.S. would be able to justify the use of force.
Trump also canceled his trip to South America, indicating that the White House is concerned about the deepening involvement of Russia and Iran in Syria. Both of these countries have served as allies for Assad, but Iran’s involvement is deeply concerning to the international community. Iran has been involved in multiple conflicts throughout the region, and the Iranian regime’s support of fundamentalism and repression has taken hold in other areas of the Middle East, most notably in its increasing control of territory in Syria.
“The Iranian regime is the main perpetrator of war and killings in Syria and the source of crimes, such as the chemical bombing of Douma, which hurt the conscience of humanity,” said Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a statement condemning the recent chemical attacks. “The masterminds of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria, namely Assad and his master, Ali Khamenei, must be brought before justice. Failure to take action is shameful and paves the way for continuation of such crimes.”
The question is what will the U.S. do now as they must address the chemical attacks in Syria, while at the same time dealing with two countries that have proved challenging to the U.S. in the past and whose relationships with the U.S. are fraught with tension.