Chemical attacks in Douma (Syria), a small town near Damascus, were the Big Story this week-end. Trump immediately sent out a couple of tweets, blaming Putin by name, and more broadly, Russia and Iran, for “backing Animal Assad”:

He warned there would be a “big price to pay” for those chemical attacks and called for opening the area to rescuers:

Unfortunately, he spoiled the effect with a third tweet, blaming Obama:

Leaving aside that Trump is beginning to sound like a pouting child compulsively blaming Obama for everything, the fact is that Trump himself arguably set the stage for this latest tragedy. And I’m not the only one saying this: on Sunday, Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) said it too: Russia and Iran had been “emboldened by American inaction”.

American Inaction in Syria Sets the Stage for Continuing Chemical Attacks

Observable on several levels:

  • First, Trump canceled the Obama policy of giving small-scale military support to vetted groups fighting Assad, shifting to fighting ISIS in eastern Syria;
  • Second, he didn’t follow up on the bombing of a Syria airbase carried out in retaliation for the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun a year ago; it came 63 hours after the event, catching the world by surprise, but nothing happened afterwards; the airbase was quickly rebuilt by the Russians and everything was forgotten;
  • Third, he made a statement that the US would withdraw from Syria soon in a video that was widely circulated in the Middle East – it convinced Syria there was nothing to fear from the US:

Monday morning, Reuters reported that Syria accused the US of launching a missile strike against one of it’s airbases and that the Pentagon denied it. Chances are that the airstrike came from Israel – it has been in the habit lately of launching airstrikes against targets supported by Iranian militia.

So what’s the rest of the world doing about this?

France and the UK are calling for UN Security Council meeting as soon as possible, two of them are planned for today. Remarkably, Russia has also asked for a UN Security Council session.

For now, the country missing from the UN call is Trump’s America.

Noteworthy footnote: Before the latest chemical attack on Syria, Macron of France was not on Twitter but on the phone with Putin agreeing to de-escalate interventions in Syria. Immediately after the attack, the French Foreign Affairs Minister said France would assume “all its responsibilities in the fight against chemical weapons”.

Unfortunately, American inaction has a heavy cost in terms of human suffering, as shown in this terrible video of Douma victims of the chemical attacks:


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