April 16, 2018
Allied strikes against the Syrian regime adds to the uncertainty surrounding the middle east situation.
United States President Donald Trump ordered military strikes against Syria, in collaboration with the United Kingdom and France. What will be the consequences? Will they affect the US-Russian relationship? Two experts shared their views with China Daily’s Zhang Zhouxiang:
Zhao Guangcheng, a researcher at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, Northwestern University:
The airstrikes were the result of the escalating conflict between the US and Russia. Now, with the US supported rebels losing on the battlefield, the country has finally decided to take direct military action.
Looking at it from the US side, the Trump administration hopes to make achievements in diplomacy so as to support Trump’s image among domestic voters as well as gain an advantage for the Republicans in the coming midterm elections. That’s why the US has taken rather strong measures in almost everything related to Russia－from the case of a former Russian spy being poisoned to the Syrian crisis, the US acted in quite a strong manner.
However, by doing so, the Trump administration has victimized the Syrian people. Seven years ago, it was the “Arab Spring”, which supported by the US dragged Syria into war. Today, it is still the US trying to prolong their nightmare.
Therefore, it is too early to predict the tendencies of the situation in Syria, but one thing is certain: The Syrian people will suffer longer because of this decision by the US.
Wang Jinglie, a researcher on Middle Eastern studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:
A successful businessman, Trump hopes to maximize US interests by authorizing the military action. And contrary to its claim, US interests in the Middle East lie in chaos instead of order, because only a chaotic Middle East can offer enough excuses for the US to intervene.
It is US’ strategy and the country’s competition with Russia that has complicated the Syrian crisis. The US has made at least two mistakes in the Middle East in the past few years: First, it failed to play a dominant role in the campaign against the Islamic State. Second, it offended its own Arab allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In contrast, Russia successfully increased its influence in the region by actively coordinating with local powers such as Iran and Turkey. It is fair to say Russia has gained from its involvement in the Middle East.
That’s why the Trump administration decided to launch airstrikes on Syria－it hopes to “frighten” Russia “back”. But that strategy will hardly prove effective because Russia is determined to defend its interests in the Middle East.
Especially, as the US and Europe have been trying to “contain” Russia with the recent diplomatic crisis, Russia is determined to break it in the Middle East. Therefore there is hardly any possibility of Russia stepping back.