Stop the self-congratulation over Syria strikes: Marwan Bishara

Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst says Western air strikes will not change the course of the Syrian war.

Just hours after the United States, France and the UK dropped more than 100 bombs against suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria, US President Donald Trump declared victory.

He wrote “Mission Accomplished!” on Twitter, a phrase that brought immediate comparisons to President George W Bush’s misplaced optimism following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

British and French officials also praised the operation, arguing Western intervention was needed to deter President Bashar al-Assad‘s government from using chemical weapons in the future.

Trump and European leaders had spoken of intervention earlier this week after a suspected chemical weapons attack in the former rebel stronghold of Douma last weekend, killed around 85 civilians.

But analysts question the reasons for these latest raids – which signalled that Western leaders would not let a chemical weapons attack go without punishment – but demurred about deeper involvement when barrel bombs are used.

And in a conflict where more than 465,000 people have been killed and over 12 million people – half the country’s prewar population – have been displaced, what benefit would they bring?

Everyone needs to stop congratulating themselves over the air strikes in Syria, says Al Jazeera’s Senior Political Analyst, Marwan Bishara.

“Everyone is celebrating and declaring victory which is bizarre since so many Syrians have suffered over the years, and the bombings have just taken place,” he said.

“The Syrian regime is claiming victory, declaring a Morning of Steadfastness, while showing pictures of Assad supporters in the streets.

“You have the Iranians declaring victory over their non-changing situation, influence and presence in Syria.

“Then you have the Russians taking the high moral and legal ground against Western powers.

“Finally you have the Americans declaring ‘Mission accomplished,’ with the British and French saying they ‘did what they had to do’ without killing civilians.

“Bizarrely, everyone is declaring victory and no one seems to have learnt anything from this lesson and how to move forward.”

‘The strikes are limited in scope’

Bishara says the only way to stop the use of chemical weapons is by bringing an end to the war.

But in the run-up to military action against Assad’s forces, the West was only focused on one thing: rolling back Iranian influence.

“There was a wish list put out by the Americans three months ago,” Bishara said.

1. Free Syria from weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons.

2. Free Syria of ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS).

3. Free Syria from Iranian influence.

4. Free Syria from Bashar al-Assad.

5. Allow Syrian refugees to go back and rebuild their country.

“If you look at the list, two out of the five, getting rid of ISIL and chemical weapons are more or less accomplished, but the other three are more challenging.

“For the Americans, Saudis and Israelis, what’s more important is getting rid of Iranian influence through the patronage of Russia.

“Ali Akbar Velayati, the top political adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that if you bomb Syria, that does not change the situation on the ground.

“Iran, Bashar al-Assad and Russia will remain in control.

“The problem with [Saturday’s] strike is that it’s so limited in its scope that it consolidated the Assad regime and what is behind it – Tehran and Moscow.”

Source: Al Jazeera