Podcasts: Will US and Others Respond to Assad’s Chemical Attacks?

A child receives medical treatment after Assad regime's chemical attacks on Douma in East Ghouta, Syria, April 7, 2018. (Halil el-Abdullah/Anadolu/Getty)

UPDATE, APRIL 11: I had further interviews with BBC outlets on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning about the latest situation, following Russia’s veto of a UN resolution for a full investigation of the chemical attacks near Damascus.

Listen to BBC Radio Foyle

See also Syria Daily, April 11: Russia Blocks Full Investigation of Chemical Attacks on Douma

Listen to BBC Radio Coventry

Listen to BBC Radio London from Wednesday morning

Syria is now in effect partitioned, and the real question — amid the latest chemical attacks by the Assad regime — is whether you protect those civilians who are outside regime-controlled areas.

The only way that you can protect is by drawing a line that the Assad regime and Russia cannot continue with bombing with conventional as well as chemical munitions, without a check on their actions.

Listen to BBC Radio Scotland from Tuesday afternoon

With the UN Security Council debating the Assad regime’s weekend chemical attacks near Syria’s capital Damascus and the Trump Administration saying “all options are on the table”, I joined BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Coventry on Tuesday morning to assess what — if any — response will be made by Washington and the international community.

I think there’s more support for an airstrike because — I hate to say this — it’s easier than the hard thing to do.

A one-off airstrike, you send your planes up and — as long as you don’t clash with the Russians, and they’ll be warned beforehand — you’ve done it and it’s over.

What is needed is commitment to cooperation on the ground to protect civilians. That question has been on the table since 2012, and it’s the one time and time again that the international community has failed to answer.

Listen to BBC Berkshire

Listen to BBC Coventry

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. Let’s not forget that the United States during the 1980s not only did nothing about Saddam Hussein’s chemical attacks against Iranian soliders and civilians, but the Reagan administration actually helped the Iraqi dictator in building up his weapons of mass destruction war machine. Of note, when Saddam gassed Iranian solidiers and Kurdish civilians at Hallabja in 1988, the Defense Intelligence Agency was instructed to blame Iran for the incident: http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Halabja_poison_gas_attack

    • Just to follow up on my comment: “A preliminary Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) study at the time concluded, apparently by determining the chemicals used by looking at images of the victims, that it was in fact Iran that was responsible for the attack, an assessment which was used subsequently by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for much of the early 1990’s.”

  2. US Sends Second Missile Destroyer to Syrian Coast: https://sputniknews.com/military/201804101063388078-us-syria-warships/

    “The US already has one guided-missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, in the eastern Mediterranean, where it could take part in any strike on Syria, according to US defense officials. A second, the USS Porter could get there in a few days, The Wall Street Journal wrote.”

    “On Monday, Russia sent a team of chemical corps experts to Douma to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons there. After questioning the patients and staff of a local hospital, the Russian experts said they had found no traces whatsoever of any chemical poisoning with either chlorine or sarin.”

  3. Chemical Weapons Redux: Taking the World to the Brink of Annihilation : https://www.mintpressnews.com/taking-the-world-to-the-brink-of-annihilation/240314/

    This was Predicted: As reported at Tass, the Chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, predicted the current events almost a month ago. The report from March 13 says: “Russia has hard facts about preparations for staging the use of chemical weapons against civilians by the government forces. After the provocation, the U.S. plans to accuse Syria’s government forces of using chemical weapons … furnish the so-called ‘evidence’ … and Washington plans to deliver a missile and bomb strike against Damascus’ government districts.” Gerasimov noted that Russian military advisors are staying in the Syrian Defense Ministry’s facilities in Damascus and “in the event of a threat to our military servicemen’s lives, Russia’s Armed Forces will take retaliatory measures to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles.”

  4. Nobody appointed the United States to be the world’s policeman. They have no right under international law to attack Syria (Americans were not hurt in Douma) unless they receive explicit authorisation from the UN security council. This is a nation that nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, sprayed agent orange on crops in Vietnam to starve the population, and used depeleted uranium in the Gulf war. America has no moral authority to do anything. An attack on Syria will be seen as an attack all Muslim and NAM countries.

    • Nobody appointed the Islamic hellhole of Iran to establish satellite states across the middle east, start conflicts with Israel, and support mass murdering cowards who gas their own people.


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