Podcast: What Now After US-UK-France Airstrikes v. Assad?

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Bashar al-Assad's supporters wave Syrian and Russian flags in Damascus, April 14, 2018

UPDATE 1645 GMT: My series of interviews with BBC outlets on Monday morning reviewing the dynamics in the UK Parliament and the question of where next in Syria:

Listen to BBC Hereford

Listen to BBC Ulster

Listen to BBC Merseyside

The Assad regime isn’t too worried if you hit its chemical facilities….Its main way of killing civilians is with conventional weapons.

Listen to BBC Lincolnshire

There is no political solution that is possible in Syria unless you go far beyond the airstrikes. By that, I don’t mean boots on the ground, I don’t mean a sustained aerial intervention to attack the Assad regime. I mean protected zones for civilians.

Until you provide that type of security, there is no incentive for the Assad regime to come to the table.

Listen to BBC Norfolk

Putin can exert a lot of pull because Russia is essential to Bashar al-Assad’s survival, but it doesn’t mean theregime, the military, and Assad’s advisors won’t test their luck. I suscept that, with the chemical attacks on April 7, the Assad regime was testing its luck and didn’t tell Moscow, who had to scramble to cover its ally’s back.

Listen to BBC Shropshire

Listen to BBC Sheffield


UPDATE 1630 GMT: My discussion with Julia Hartley-Brewer of talkRADIO on Monday morning about the politics and military situation in Syria and in the US, UK, and France after the airstrikes by the three countries.

If there is ongoing military action — not boots on the ground, but airstrikes — and/or a protected zone, Prime Minister May will have to go to Parliament.

Listen from 6:35 in the 0630-0700 Segment


UPDATE, APRIL 16, 0600 GMT: I joined BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday for a 30-minute discussion of the Assad regime’s chemical attacks, US-UK-France strikes, and what does (or should) happen now.

The other panelists are Alexander Titov of Queen’s University Belfast, Rosemary Hollis of City University London, and Donnacha Ó Beacháin of Dublin City University.

It’s a spirited debate with differences between Hollis’s worry about US-Russia confrontation and the views of Titov — who sees a political process and power politics establishing a partition of Syria — and my advocacy, alongside that realistic assessment, of protected zones for civilians.

Listen to Discussion


I joined a panel discussion on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday morning to consider what happens after the US-UK-France airstrikes on military facilities of Syria’s Assad regime, responding to last weekend’s chemical attacks near Damascus.

The discussion includes Rosemary Hollis of City University London and David Pratt of the Sunday Herald. There are some sharp differences over the situation around the US and Russia — Hollis sees danger in uncertainty, whereas I think the Russians are quite clear on what has occurred — and on measures beyond the strikes, such as protected zones for all of Syria’s civilians.

The big question is not about this attack but whether the US, UK, and France go beyond this to do anything about the conventional bombing by the Assad regime and by the Russians….What is needed in Syria is a protected zone where anyone outside the Assad regime’s control has security from bombing. That’s the line the international community hasn’t approached and that’s the one which would bring the real tension between Russia and the West.

See also Podcasts: The Impending Strike v. Assad’s Chemical Attacks — What Happens Next?

Listen to Discussion

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31 COMMENTS

  1. “What is needed in Syria is a protected zone where anyone outside the Assad regime’s control has security from bombing.”

    A no-fly zone would be a total violation of Syria’ sovereignty, and if ever implemented, would likely become permanent. Btw, chemical weapons can be deployed with land-based rockets and mortars, as they were in Ghouta in 2013.

    If lives are to be saved, rebels in Idlib and Daraa provinces must begin talks about a political process that allows them to surrender their weapons in exchange for a political process they can become part of.

    • Razmjoo: “A no-fly zone would be a total violation of Syria’ sovereignty”

      Assad has NO sovereignty because he does not represent Syria. He can’t hide behind sovereignty and then kill 400,000 innocent Syrians. Furthermore his auctioning Syrian assets and territory to Russians, Iranians, etc. makes it clear he is a traitor to Syria and not a sovereign.

      The NFZ is about stopping the barrel bombing and aerial bombing.

      “become part of the political process”? Are you god forbid demented? WHAT political process? After you gas children, would anyone accept the corrupt political process that you will stuff down their throats?

      • Assad has NO sovereignty because he does not represent Syria.
        Wrong. He represented all of Syria other than the occupied areas the US holds by forces.
        He never killed 400,000 Syrians. Nor has he auctioned Syrian assets and territory to Russians, Iranians.
        The NFZ is about stopping the barrel bombing and aerial bombing
        No it’s about controlling the oil fields to the North East and denying revenue to the sovereign government of Syria and he Syrian people.

      • The Tomahawk is a 35 year old cruise missile that is exceedingly slow. That is why 71 of 105 were shot out of the sky using Soviet Era AS missiles.
        The S-400 systems were not even engaged. In fact the Russians have not even delivered S300s to the Syrians because of fierce lobbying by the US and allies who are frightened of them. That’s why F.U.K.U.S. war planes stayed out of Syrian air space during the pathetic attack.
        A massive success for the Russian military-industrial complex. NO wonder the world is lining up to buy the S400s. Raytheon and General Dynamic stocks are likely plummeting.
        The US thinks that by extortion it can lead the club of advanced nations. This kind of Mafia mindset is what John Bolton is dreaming about. To extort the developed world with nukes and geopolitical forays, in order to get some kind of an economic benefit through extortion. Well, what they got instead is a failing empire who is growing weaker and more irrelevant by the day.
        The people of Syria are laughing at the US. They are asking themselves if this is the best the US has got.
        This event has wiped out Americans “superpower” pretensions.

  2. Syria strike reduces research center to smoking rubble: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-scene/syria-strike-reduces-research-center-to-smoking-rubble-idUSKBN1HL107

    “Standing near the rubble, Saeid Saeid, head of the center’s polymers department, said that the buildings had been used to research and make medicine components that could not be imported, including ones for cancer treatment and anti-venom. Amid the rubble on the edge of the compound were the scattered remains of its contents: charred books, laboratory masks and gloves, files, tables, cardboard packets marked with the names of medicines, chairs and wind-blown sheets of paper.”

    In 1998, then president Bill Clinton attacked a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, falsely claiming it was a chemical weapons factory: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/02/afghanistan.terrorism3

    The US and its allies fired 105 missiles in total, 76 at this scientific research facility involved in humanitarian work: https://theaviationist.com/2018/04/14/russia-claims-71-out-of-105-cruise-missiles-downed-in-yestedays-air-strikes-none-were-shot-down-according-to-the-us/

    • You forgot the part that Barzeh is one of two major military facilities — the other is Jamraya — involved in chemical weapons and nerve agents.

        • When you take into account CW dispersal in the various cases, you can explain this rather than fall back on conspiracy theories and disinformation.

          • When you take into account CW dispersal in the various cases, you can explain this rather than fall back on conspiracy theories and disinformation.

            Then why did investigators of the Salisbury incident wear Hazmat suits? As Dan Kaszeta assures us, all that rain and exposire to the air would have rendered the Novichok all but benign.

            • Lol – you are so uninformed. The Novichok was spread on his house door handle. There is no rain there. It has an overhang. And the gel paste the Russians used to deliver Novichok, prevents it from simply evaporating.

              Next time you claim you installed a curtain at someone’s home, go and check their front door overhang. Nobody builds a house with the door handle and lock mechanism exposed to the rain. Just shows how much you know about the residential construction industry.

        • So what is wrong with destroying a Nazi dictator’s weapons and probably torture research center? Remember, we have the high ground on morality here, and we can do what we want to Assad and his death squads. Now you go and complain that we are mistreating a Nazi dictator who just killed 400,000 innocent countrymen, and gassed children.

          These centers don’t store the sarin. They research with small samples.

          • So what is wrong with destroying a Nazi dictator’s weapons and probably torture research center?

            There are centers for torture research? Did Assad get a grant from the CIA back in the days the US was rendering suspects and sending them to countries like Syria to be tortured?

            Remember, we have the high ground on morality here, and we can do what we want to Assad and his death squads.

            Moral high ground in what universe? You have killed 20 million people since WWII and are bombing 8 countries as we speak. The US is consistently regarded as the greatest threat to world peace, even among it’s so called allies.

            Now you go and complain that we are mistreating a Nazi dictator who just killed 400,000 innocent countrymen, and gassed children.

            Such false bravado. You are doing nothing to Assad. You haven’t even dared to lay a finger on him,

            These centers don’t store the sarin. They research with small samples.

            So where is the Sarin stored and was that bombed or not?

  3. The story about he CW attack continues to collapse.


    Robert Fisk Reports Head of Douma Clinic Denies Chemical Weapons Attack

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/04/robert-fisk-reports-head-of-douma-clinic-denies-chemical-weapons-attack/

    The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack
    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-robert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html

    I will be interested to see if Scott will place as much faith in the witness accounts of the actual doctors who were at the scene as h does the White Helmets.

    • This is likely to be one of several doctors in Douma reportedly taken by Russian personnel for questioning and threatened with arrest.

      It may well be the same doctor paraded on Sputnik to deny the chemical attack.

      And there is already a big hole in the story: at least 35 of the victims were not in a basement, but above ground in a residential building.

  4. The Tomahawk is a 35 year old cruise missile that is exceedingly slow. It flies slower than a passenger airplane. Despite this and a week’s notice, the Russians could not shoot down a single one of them, and either their S-400 systems failed, or they were to scared to use the S-400 because the Tomahawk and newer missiles can redirect and destroy the S-400 mobile station that is a threat.

    Complete disaster for the Russian military-industrial complex. They were given more than a week’s notice. It is very doubtful that any country would bother to buy one of these systems from Russia, even at a deep discount. Russians should understand their place in the world scene. They are just another Mexico with nukes. They have no business propping up Nazi dictators.

    Russia thinks that by extortion it can join the club of advanced nations. This kind of Mafia mindset is what Putin is dreaming about. To extort the developed world with nukes and geopolitical forays, in order to get some kind of an economic benefit through extortion. Well, what they got instead is sanctions which will retard their economic development. Ideology is dead and along with it went the Soviet Union. What Russia gains by helping kill 400,000 innocent civilians in Syria, is out with the jury.

    This event has wiped out Russia’s “superpower” pretensions.

    • The very fact that the US story claims 76 missiles were needed to flatten a small 2 story building goes to show how weak and irrelevant the US has become. A handful of barrel bombs could have done the same damage.

      Maybe the US should start buying barrel bombs from the Assad regime? 🙂

      • You should return back to your video games, and test your theories there.

        At least a dozen buildings were targeted. Some of them had multiple underground levels, several stories high, and were major complexes all made of reinforced concrete. If you think a Tomahawk carrying 450 kg of explosives can obliterate a four story concrete structure the size of a small city block, half of it underground – then you should go back to your video games to test out that theory.

        Maybe in your video games Russia is a super power on par with the US, China, and western Europe, or NATO. Let Putin spend all state money on his dream of superpowership. His economy will retard and some day parallel Venezuela instead of Mexico.

        • You should return back to your video games, and test your theories there.
          Was nebver into video games even when I was working in the industry.
          At least a dozen buildings were targeted.
          And yet, only 3 were hit.
          Some of them had multiple underground levels, several stories high, and were major complexes all made of reinforced concrete.
          Nope. None of the building were 4 story. The so called research facility was only 2 stories.
          If you think a Tomahawk carrying 450 kg of explosives can obliterate a four story concrete structure the size of a small city block, half of it underground – then you should go back to your video games to test out that theory.
          I never said one missile would do the job, I said 3-4. It does not require 10. It certainly doesn’t require 76 to do the job. So if you put your chest beating Team America machismo to one side, 71 taken out leaves between 11 and 12 missiles per target, which is certainly realistic.

    • Russia never was some kind of re-emerging superpower. They have an economy the size of Mexico. Bombing a few rebels and invading their weaker neighbors doesn’t make them a superpower. They aren’t even a shadow of what the soviets were. That’s just a narrative put out by their little pawns.

      • Andre has difficulties in understanding that russia is a regional power not a super power. All russian propaganda of course tries to prove the complete opposite through comical statements, empty threats on the international level and real threats to any civilian opposition. Andre is one who falls for this garbage. Live your utopia !! Belive and dream on 🙂

        • Only stupid people will fall for international bluster. Andre and the rest of the anti-American Marxists having seen the failure of communism in the 70s had two choice. Either enter a make believe world of international “geopolitical” bluster and propaganda, which is what he and his “Irish” pal did, or jettison classical Marxism for “neo-Marxism” which is postmodernism and cultural wars, and distance themselves from the Soviet Union. Doesn’t seem that these bots even understand the 2nd option, as they are not so smart. They would be a lot more successful in what they do, if they had chosen the second option. But of course, Putin and his buddies are not going to finance neo-Marxism, as it is by and large rubbish, and cannot be used for domestic purposes of regime longevity. So hence lays the “Irish”‘s and “Australian”‘s dilemma.

          • Andre has difficulties in understanding that russia is a regional power not a super power.

            It fascinates me how important it is to people like Caligola to keep repeating this mantra, even if it is of little significance. Being a so called superpower doesn’t seem to have helped the US all that much. They lost in Vietnam, lost in Iraq, bogged down and lost in Afghanistan and now lost in Syria.

          • Andre and the rest of the anti-American Marxists having seen the failure of communism in the 70s had two choice.
            Pitty you skipped history. Putin was one of the chief opponents of communism in he former USSR and along with his predecessor, helped to bring it down. Instead, you see the whole world through the lends of Marxism/neo Marxism and anti Marxism.
            Meanwhile the decline of the US empire continues unabated.

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