Need to keep Cold War within manageable limits
The US, France and Britain have launched missile attacks inside Syria to destroy the country’s supposed chemical weapons capabilities. Ambivalence is being maintained in statements like the one by Pentagon Chief Gen (retd) James Mattis, which indicates that ‘this is a one-time shot, for now’. This gives a new turn to President Trump’s earlier remarks that the campaign against the regime of Bashar al-Assad could be “sustained.” With NATO coming out in support of the attacks along with Canada, one does not know if Trump would exercise restraint. Surrounded by hardliners, John Bolton being the latest addition, it is tough to say whether wisdom would prevail in Washington or not.
The death of more than 40 people, many of them children, in Douma was a great tragedy. There is a need to determine who was responsible for the act. Living in the post truth era one hears all types of weird claims about the possible perpetrator of the horror. The US points the finger at Assad’s regime. This looks improbable, as the Syrian government had succeeded in winning back most of the rebel/terrorist-controlled towns. Douma, one of the last few enclaves, too was about to fall. How could the Syrian government then resort to a chemical attack knowing well that a strong world reaction was bound to follow? After the revelation that claims of the Saddam regime being in possession of WMDs–which was used to justify the attack on Iraq–turned out to be completely false many would take the US claim about Syria’s involvement with a pinch of salt. The best option was to allow the OPCW team of experts to conduct a probe. That the US launched an attack before the team could begin the exercise raises serious questions.
It is a coincidence that PM Abbasi and COAS Bajwa are proceeding to Saudi Arabia at a time when the Muslim world is divided over the US-led attack with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain openly supporting it, Iran and Iraq denouncing it and Jordan calling for a political solution in Syria. Pakistan needs to advise its Arab friends to avoid becoming a part of the US war, which can turn the Middle East into a powder keg.