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Late on Friday, April 13, US President Donald Trump ordered the US military to launch point strike on targets associated with the development and production of chemical weapons in Syria. The American president was supported by the French colleague Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May. So, the United States, Great Britain and France directed missiles at the research center near Damascus, chemical weapons depots and the command post near Homs. Point strikes were inflicted by warships, submarines, and aircraft, including American B-1 strategic bombers. Three objects were fired by about 120 Tomahawk cruise missiles. According to Russian media reports, the Syrian military managed to bring down about 13 missiles from Soviet-built and Russian-made air defense systems.
This military operation was the West's response to a chemical attack in the village of Douma, near Damascus, last weekend. Then from 40 to 70 people died. Before the chemical attack, the Douma was in the hands of the Islamist opposition coalition "Jaysh al-Islam", after it - passed to control of Syrian President Bashar Assad troops. The chemical attack in the Douma has become the spit in the face of the collective West, which has repeatedly called on the parties to the conflict not to use banned chemical weapons and even softened their position regarding the continued presence of Assad in power. According to Theresa May, the goals of the night military operation were to protect civilians and prevent the use of chemical weapons in the future. After Syria signed the "Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons" in 2013, the international community did not manage to control the liquidation of 12 enterprises producing sarin, VX and other chemicals, which have a military purpose. However, the current humanitarian intervention in Syria has a wider international significance.
West defends its interests in Syria
With the help of targeted strikes against objects in the controlled territory of the Assad regime sponsored by Russia, the States, and their allies demonstrated their determination and made it clear that they are ready for any development of events to protect their interests. In the interests of the West, experts see the division of Syria into spheres of influence in order for the Syrian Kurds and other opposition groups to retain control over certain areas of the country. The Americans are interested in preserving the Syrian Kurds control over the oil fields in the Deir-Ez-Zor, Ash-Shaddadi, Rumailan areas. In the interests of proponents of diversifying the directions of natural gas imports and reducing the EU's energy dependence on Russia, we note the implementation of the Qatari gas pipeline project. This pipeline would allow delivering blue fuel from Qatar's fields to Europe through the territories of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.
Damascus and Moscow block the implementation of the Qatari gas pipeline. After the actual destruction of ISIS, the Assad regime, with the military support of the Russian military and mercenaries, concentrated on destroying the opposition and restoring its power over the whole territory of Syria. This is evidenced by the recent seizure of the territory of East Guta by the troops of Assad, including the populated Douma, which since 2011 was under the control of the opposition, as well as by unsuccessful attempt of the Syrian Kurds to seize oil field in Deir-Ez-Zor province in February with the help of the Russian Wagner Group. Apparently, the destruction of Russian mercenaries, as well as last year's strike by Tomahawk missiles at the military airfield of Ash Shayrat, did not cool the expansionist fervor of Moscow and Damascus. The use of chemical weapons in the Douma is a pure provocation by the Russian and Syrian military in order to test the West's reaction and continue the offensive in other regions. After Russia and the Assad regime destroy the opposition in the suburbs of Damascus, Homs and in the south of the country, they will conquer Syrian Kurdistan.
Therefore, the United States, Great Britain, and France acted as preemptors and carried out targeted attacks on the controlled territory of the Assad regime in order to discourage the actions for further military expansion against the opposition, including the use of chemical weapons. It is no accident that point strikes were carried out in Syria before the arrival of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This week, this settlement got under the control of the troops of Assad, who probably already managed to cover up the traces of chemical attack before the arrival of experts. The military operation was carried out according to the Iraqi scenario. In December 1998, the US and British air forces conducted Operation Fox in the Desert and inflicted 14 missile and bomb strikes on sites associated with the development and storage of chemical weapons to weaken the position of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who ultimately was overthrown during the US intervention in March 2003. The West made it clear to Assad and his patrons that if the regime does not make concessions, it can suffer the same fate as Hussein, and Russia and Iran will not be able to come to the rescue.
Trump showed that he would not tolerate
The West responded to the spit of Russia and the Assad regime, carried out in the form of a recent chemical attack in Douma, inflicting a missile strike. And it is primarily not about its military significance. Trump, May, and Macron made it clear to Putin that if Russia and its Syrian protégé refuse to comply with international legal norms and continue to violate the international balance of power, then the United States and its allies have the full moral right to use military force without hindrance for protecting their interests. The Americans made it clear to the Russian president, who played with human destinies, that they want to spit on the UN Charter, the UN Security Council resolutions, the Kremlin's threats - they would do whatever they wanted anywhere in the world. The United States and its allies carried out a daring military action in the face of the Russian military grouping in Syria. Americans ignored the previous promises of Russian military and diplomats to shoot down missiles, hit their carriers or strike back at sources of fire in case of the threat to Russian servicemen in Syria.
Point hits by the United States and its allies have once again confirmed the weakness of the Russian leadership, its unwillingness to confront a superior or equal adversary in defense of its military and political allies, which is the Assad regime in Syria. As in the case of last year's rocket attack on the military airfield of Ash Shayrat, the Russian military did not render assistance to the Syrian anti-aircraft gunners in an unequal battle with the most combat-capable NATO member countries. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that none of the cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies was part of the responsibility of the Russian air defense units covering the facilities in Tartous and Khmeimim. On the territory of Syria, there are Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-400, which allegedly can shoot down Tomahawk missiles. The Russian military did not fulfill the basic function for which they are placed in Syria. They did not provide security on the territory controlled by the Assad regime and did not shoot down any missiles and military aircraft.
It seems that Trump took a decision about pinpoint strikes on the territory of Syria under the influence of the power bloc, which has strong positions in the administration and the US Congress. Former Republican military senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham proposed in 2017 to expand the US air operations in Syria and to launch missile strikes not only on the positions of the ISIS but also on warehouses with chemical weapons of Assad, which they perceive as a puppet of Iran. According to McCain, the cause of the recent chemical attack in Douma was Trump's statement about the imminent withdrawal of 2,000 US military from Syria, which Assad took as a signal to action. Many Republican congressmen greeted with applause the news of the military operation in Syria. The supporter of a hard line against Russia is the candidate for the post of the US Secretary of State and former CIA director Mike Pompeo. He believes that the time of soft US policy towards Russia has come to an end. On the eve of the military operation, Pompeo said that the destruction of "a couple of hundred" Russians in Syria ("Wagner" group) is a confirmation of a more rigid policy of Trump against Moscow.
Russia -a feet of clay
In response to pinpoint strikes in Syria, Russia confined itself to accusing the US and its allies of violating the norms of international law, which it has repeatedly violated in Ukraine and Syria. The Russian Federation convened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Russia's ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, promised that the actions of the United States, Britain and France will not be left without consequences since attacks at Putin are unacceptable. What exactly the consequences the US and its allies should expect knows only Antonov himself, but the practice shows that the Kremlin did not react to the defeat of the Wagner group and the bombing of the military airfield of Ash-Shayrat by the US military. Even after Turkey shot down Russian Su-24 bomber that violated its airspace in November 2015, Russia did not use military force in response but limited itself to food sanctions against Turkish producers and the cancellation of tourist permits for its citizens to Anatolian resorts.
Most likely, as a retaliatory measure, Russia will ignore participation in negotiations with the US on the settlement of armed conflicts in Ukraine and Syria in the near future. It is not ruled out that Moscow will try to create the facade of an "asymmetric strike", by activating shelling of the Ukrainian military positions in Donbas. Russia is a colossus on clay feet with a bloated authority that is able to impose its will exclusively to small post-Soviet states like Ukraine and Georgia but has no real military and political weight in the world.
Americans, British and French in a brutal form showed Russians their true place in the world. Point hits in Syria were supported by Germany, the Czech Republic, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and even Turkey, despite President Erdogan's flirting with Moscow and criticizing Washington's foreign policy. The military operation was condemned by Iran, Cuba and China, which have complicated relations with America. Russia's position in the Middle East is weak, and apart from Iran and the Assad regime, it has no allies in the region. Russia is not able to compete with the US and NATO in the military-political sphere and is vulnerable in the event of possible power collisions. Otherwise, the Kremlin would act more resolutely, as it was during the Cold War between the US and the USSR.
Intimidation of Iran and North Korea
With the example of pinpoint strikes in Syria, the US authorities demonstrated strength to Iran and North Korea, which act against US interests or provoke potential threats to the security of America and its allies. Since October 2015, Iran has tested five medium- and short-range ballistic missiles. In the arsenal of the Iranian army are 11 types of ballistic missiles with a radius of damage from 150 to 2 thousand km. In the radius of the defeat of Iranian missiles are American military bases and facilities in the Persian Gulf countries, which are located less than 2 thousand kilometers from Iran. Last year, North Korea conducted 16 missile tests, within which launched 23 ballistic missiles. The Arsenal of the DPRK has been replenished with new intercontinental ballistic missiles "Hwasong-14", "Hwasong-15", small and medium-range missiles of various modifications. In service of the DPRK, there are about 60 nuclear weapons.
The US makes it clear that, if necessary, similar military operations can be carried out at any time to destroy research centers, test ranges that are involved in the missile program of Iran and North Korea. Republicans let officials in Tehran and Pyongyang understand that the times of the "reset" and the indecisiveness of former Democratic President Barack Obama have come to an end and now it's time for them to pursue a constructive foreign policy, not to provoke international tension. Otherwise, the American Tomahawks will fly to them. With pointed blows in Syria, the US is trying to show its return to the role of an international policeman and the desire to achieve exceptional leadership in the torn apart by instability and the conflict-armed multipolar world.