by Cassy Fiano | April 11, 2017 10:38 am
Donald Trump didn’t hesitate to retaliate against Syria when news broke that innocent civilians were victims of a despicable chemical attack: he bombed Syria in response, sending a message that such atrocities won’t be tolerated. Now, it is rumored that Trump is planning another bombing, according to none other than Vladimir Putin himself.
Putin claimed that the United States is planning an air strike against the Syrian capital and will pin the blame on Basher al-Assad during a press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. He also claimed that the United States will plan fake chemical weapons attacks to gin up support for further bombings. “We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared… in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons),” he claimed.
While Putin said that these bombings were being planned, he did not offer any evidence to back up his claims.
Putin also said that while he would tolerate criticism of Russia’s role in the Syrian civil war, he wanted the United States to soften their attitude towards them. This comes on the heels of Rex Tillerson’s announcement that he will hold talks in Moscow and is set to warn Russia to stop their support for Assad’s regime. A recent G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Italy also called on Russia to argue for a “real and genuine” political process in Syria and to work toward’s ending Syria’s six-year civil war.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson responded by saying there was an opportunity for Russia and Vladimir Putin to “reset” their relationship with the West and join the coalition against the Islamic State. Johnson also called Assad a “tyrant” and urged Russia to stop supporting him. However, the G7 foreign ministers rejected his bid for sanctions to be placed against both Russia and Syria. The ministers argued that the chemical attack should be investigated before any new actions are taken. Johnson still pressed for sanctions, but agreed to wait until an investigation was finished.
“What we’re doing now is tabling a resolution in the UN Security Council, there’s going to be a chemical weapons inspection group investigation into exactly what happened,” he explained. “And after that, of course, if we can find people – whether they are Syrians or whether they are Russians who are associated with the Syrian military operation – it is in my view wholly appropriate that they should face economic sanctions or sanctions of some other kind. That is something by the way that had a wide degree of acceptance round the table last night. But you’ve got to do these things in the proper legal way.”
Johnson claimed that Russia did not know about the chemical attacks before they took place, while the United States has argued that they did. “Did they know Assad was going to unleash chemical weapons? We have no evidence for that. We don’t know whether the Russians were involved at all,” he said. “It may very well be that they’ve simply been betrayed by their client, by the guy they’ve been backing. Now is the time for them for them to recognise that and help the rest of the world and far more, help the people of Syria to move forward.”
“The Russians have seen their ally Assad use chemical weapons absolutely blatantly, murdering his people in a way that was banned almost 100 years ago. It’s clear beyond doubt that that happened,” he added. “Now they have a big strategic choice. Do they want to stick with this guy who is not only poisoning his own people but poisoning the reputation of Russia? Or do they want to be part of the solution?”
As for Rex Tillerson, he said that it’s time for Russia to decide where they stand, once and for all. “It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end. But the question of how that ends and the transition itself could be very important in our view to the durability, the stability inside of a unified Syria,” he said. “Russia has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah. Is that a long-term alliance that serves Russia’s interest or would Russia prefer to realign with other Western countries and Middle East countries who are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis? We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure. Russia can be a part of that future.”
How do you think the United States should move forward?
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