A week ago from today, another atrocious war crime was committed in Syria as warplanes dropped bombs containing potential nerve agents or other chemicals in the village of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province and approximately 80 people were murdered as a result; humanitarian groups have reports that this number may even be upwards of 100. This bombing is one of the deadliest chemical attacks that have plagued the civil war for the past six years. President Bashar al-Assad has been systematically targeting and senselessly slaughtering his own civilians, even children.
Less than 72 hours after this horrendous attack, President Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike the Al Shayrat airfield, the origin of the chemical attack. The Assad regime, Iran and Russia have all condemned the strike. Here in the United States, however, Trump is facing mixed reviews from the American people, as well as politicians from both sides of the aisle.
As someone who believes the 2003 invasion of Iraq was an utter disaster and who is not at all a fan of President Trump, my stance on this missile strike may be shocking. This strike needed to happen, and it should have happened sooner.
The Assad regime has been committing war crimes for years, we all know it and the entire international community knows it; yet we have struggled to effectively achieve any means of stopping these atrocities. The United States has been attempting to solve the Syrian crisis through the United Nations for years, and to no avail. The alliance between Syria and Russia has been the biggest road block through the U.N., as Russia simply vetoes any security resolution that is put on the table.
It saddens me to see the United States get involved in yet another Middle Eastern country, however this military intervention was much more warranted than the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The main reasoning for the U.S. invasion of Iraq was the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) held by Saddam Hussein; however, as time has moved forward, it was soon learned that the existence of those WMDs was questionable at best. In the age of rising internet and social media use, there is no denying the Assad regime has been using chemical weapons on its own people. The international community has, unfortunately, seen men, women and children gasping for breath, foaming at the mouth and suffering through their last few moments.
Tuesday’s attack reminisced that of the August 21, 2013, attack on suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus by the Assad regime. President Assad sent 1,429 people – including over 400 children – to their graves after a cocktail of chemical agents, notably including sarin, was dropped on the area. After this massacre, Assad agreed to destroy his regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons and to even join an international treaty banning chemical weapons. It is safe to assume that agreement was not fully satisfied after assessing Tuesday’s bombing.
As the most recent bombing is still being investigated, it is not confirmed that the agents used included sarin. However, it has been discerned that it was highly unlikely that the attack used chlorine gas, another chemical agent that has been plaguing the civil war.
Something had to be done to send President Assad the message that he cannot keep committing what can easily be described as war crimes. What the Trump administration has to do moving forward is not to simplify or neglect the Syrian conflict.
This is immensely more complicated than the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Syria’s alliances with Iran and Russia make this situation entirely different. The proper intelligence must be gathered and the administration must think through every move again and again, and then again once more.
The United States cannot afford another disaster like Iraq, so the utmost caution must be taken to avoid years of fruitless involvement in yet another Middle Eastern country.
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