They lied yesterday and they are lying even today. They have no remorse of how they subjected Iraq, Syria and Libya to complete ruin. They think that the world at large is unaware of their dirty designs in Afghanistan, a port from where they may ultimately embark to ruin Pakistan. Yes Pakistan; they want to punish her for maintaining a strong, disciplined fighting force with their nuclear assets.
On Saturday morning, the 14th of April, Britain joined the US and France in bombing Syria. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, addressing a press conference, put forward the same old lame excuse which Tony Blair, the former British premier, resonated WMD with G W Bush in attacking Iraq, “because chemical weapons must not be ‘normalised’.”
What does “normalise” mean? Since mid-19th century Oxford English Dictionary informs us that “normalise” means ‘to make normal or to standardise when applied to everything from biological functions to spelling’. When the white supremacist US president Donald Trump was installed to the office, some democrats called for the journalists to resist “normalising” the president by writing about him as though he were a rational politician. When he promised to put America first in his inaugural speech, Donald Trump drew on a slogan with a long and dark history – and one that would anticipate what was to follow in his presidency.
“America first” is entangled with the country’s brutal legacy of slavery and white nationalism. It is, to put it plainly, a dog whistle. Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist American mafia claims that all non-white Americans should leave the country if they don’t like co-existing with white supremacists. In 1927, riots broke out when the KKK marched at a Memorial Day parade. Seven men were arrested. One of them was Fred Trump, father of Donal Trump. Since Trump is an obtuse personality, that is, not right-angled, therefore Theresa May first of all should take measures to “normalise” him before intervening into other sovereign states following the footsteps of Mr Trump.
One may think of the composition of British bombs. Aren’t these made up of chemicals? Don’t these bombs blow up the human beings? Yet we have defined them as “conventional” weapons and that is why dropping them anywhere in the world, from Iraq to Syria to Libya is not objectionable. Who on earth can dare say that the weapons we sell to other countries “must not be normalised”.
What do they want in Syria? Trump administration proclaims that they are combating ISIS only in Syria. Their airstrikes are intentioned to check the use of chemical weapons, which is their exceptional responsibility driven by their national interest in non-proliferation. Trump is no more following the Obama policy of half-hearted and intermittent backing for rebel groups seen as moderate. Over and above, the Trump administration is drawn in by the desire to contain Iran, which may pull the US deeper still into the battlefield.
The UK sees its role as a partner in the anti-Isis coalition and its participation in chemical weapons strikes as an international non-proliferation responsibility. Moreover, they have to pay the price of being a permanent member of the UN Security Council. London knows very well how their relations with Washington had dived down when they refused to take part in planned strikes in 2013 after an earlier chemical attack.
French president Emmanuel Macron too was all out to follow the US in bombing Syria because in line with Britain, they have to share the burden of retaining their major power status. Paris’s action against Isis could also be seen as retaliatory for it has been a principal target of the Isis attacks.
Apart from these three, Russia, Iran, Israel and Turkey are also involved one way or the other in Syria. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president’s role in Syrian conflict is symbolic as a central theme of his rule, restoration of Russia as a great power. Helping Assad to prevail is a test of his strength with the west and the ground on which the spread of western-inspired regime change is finally repulsed. The airstrikes are a humiliation, especially after Russian officials threatened to shoot down incoming missiles and planes but is one that has to be swallowed. Putin is well aware of the dangers of head-on confrontation with US and its allies. But Tehran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards, also see Syria as a bridge to Hezbollah, its client militia in Lebanon that has done much of the heavy fighting in Syria. That puts Tehran in a position to threaten Israel, which in turn serves as insurance from Israeli attack. Despite posturing from Tehran, it is not looking for a confrontation with the US, and as long as airstrikes are directed only at chemical facilities, it will not respond.
Iran’s gain in Syria is Israel’s loss. Tel Aviv is determined to disrupt Iranian lines of communication, control and supply to Hezbollah and keep Iranian-run militia away from the line of separation at the Golan Heights. It prefers the US and Russia to restrain the Iranians and create a buffer zone. It will want to draw in the US on its side in a wider role than counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism.
Racep Tayyip Erdogan was initially one of the most vociferous advocates of regime change in Damascus, but now finds himself seeking accommodation with the regime and its backers to break up the Kurdish hold of territory along the Turkish-Syrian border. His expeditionary “olive branch” incursion into Kurdish-held territory, however, risks confrontation with the US which see the Kurds as its most effective partner against Isis.
On the eve of US-led airstrikes, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres raised the alarm in the latest deadlocked Security Council sessions on Syria: “The cold war is back with a vengeance. The difference is that it is no longer cold. American troops are already a grenade’s toss away from Russians and Iranians in Syria and, this weekend, missiles and planes from the US, Britain and France flew against the Syrian regimes. The mechanisms and safeguards that existed to prevent escalation in the past no longer seem to be present.”
In spite of all that, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president is increasingly confident of his survival in office, shored up by Russia and Iran. His aim is to consolidate his position in Western Syria, eliminating the last resistance, then expand his control eastwards. The alleged use of chemical weapons, if true, appears to reflect a desire to achieve this at minimal cost by spreading terror. Denying Assad that weapon with airstrikes may slow him down but is unlikely to threaten his grip.