Trump Has No Clue What To Do Next After Syria Missile Strike
Less than 24 hours after launching Tomahawk missiles at a deserted Bashar al-Assad’s airbase, and reading a tough-talk speech in Florida Thursday, president Donald Trump has no clear idea of what to do next in Syria.
As the humanitarian crisis continues and the world struggles to understand Trump’s policy toward the grueling civil war, White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, refused to discuss any next steps – military or diplomatic – by the U.S. in the war-torn country.
Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, Syrian warplanes were reported to have taken off from the airbase targeted by the US missiles, suggesting that the military impact of the overnight attack had been minimal. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that government aircraft had bombed the outskirts of Khan Sheikhun, the town targeted in Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack
Spicer called the missile strike “very decisive, justified and proportional” and entirely justified by “humanitarian purposes”. But he demurred on saying whether Assad had to leave power.
“At a minimum,” Spicer said, Assad had to agree “to abide by agreements not to use chemical weapons.” But he failed to outline US objectives the US had in Syria, even as Trump came under renewed congressional pressure to present a comprehensive strategy for the US in the Syrian conflict.
The White House’s mixed signals on Assad are likely to unsettle or disappoint the Syrian opposition that initially viewed the strike as a glimmer of hope amid a relentless onslaught.
Trump’s missile barrage suggested a reversal from his previous indifference to Assad’s continued rule; the US president now faces conflicting demands from Congress to escalate militarily – and from Russia to back down.
World leaders and humanitarians, meanwhile, are demanding evidence of a strategy to end the conflict peacefully.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is attempting to revive a critical military communications hotline between the US and Russia that has become the first geopolitical casualty of Trump’s abrupt decision to attack Assad in Syria.
By shutting down the so-called deconfliction channel after the missile strike on Russia’s Syrian client, Vladimir Putin has dared Trump to choose between attacking Assad and attacking Islamic State, or risk an all-out war with Russia.