Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Keith Preston on Trump’s Attack on Syria

Tasmin News Agency


TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American political analyst said “pro-Israeli forces within the United States have for years exercised considerable pressure on the US to take action against Syria”, stressing that the recent attack on the Arab country seeks to serve the interests of Israel in the region.

“There is also evidence that the pro-Israeli forces within the United States have for years exercised considerable pressure on the United States to take action against Syria, and Trump has always had a very enthusiastically capitulating attitude towards the Israeli interests,” Keith Preston, the chief editor and director of, told the Tasnim news agency.

The following is the full text of the interview.

Tasnim: As you know,dozens of people were killed in a chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday. The United States and its allies were quick to accuse Syrian government forces of carrying out the attack. The Syrian army said, however, that “it has never used them (chemical weapons), anytime, anywhere, and will not do so in the future.” Later, Washington warned that it will take unilateral action against the Arab country. On Friday morning, the US military, without UN mandate, launched about 60 Tomahawk missiles against several targets on al-Shayrat air base in Homs province in western Syria.Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” US President Donald Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. What’s your take on this?

Preston: At this point, it has not been substantiated that the Syrian armed forces were responsible for the chemical attack in question. It should be remembered that the regime of President Assad was previously accused of using chemical weapons against civilian targets in 2013, and these accusations were shown by the United Nations to be false. Instead, it turned out to be rebel forces operating in Syria that were responsible for the use of the weapons in question. It is also doubtful that the Syrian government would have anything to gain from such an attack. Instead, President Assad and his colleagues would surely have realized that such an action would create a pretext for the United States to attack Syria with the objective of implementing regime change. Meanwhile, Syria’s standing in the international community would be diminished due to the human rights violations that such an attack would involve. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that forces other than those loyal to President Assad were responsible for the chemical attack.

Tasnim: Following the attack, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin regards the offensive as an act of “aggression against a sovereign nation,” which was carried out based on a “made-up pretext” and that it seriously hurt Russia-US relations. Also, the Chinese government said it is the Syrian nation which should determine the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad. What do you think? What kind of message is Trump trying to convey, to Putin in particular, with Chinese President Xi Jinping sitting next to him?

Preston: It is difficult to ascertain at the moment what the specific motivations of President Trump actually are, given that the actions against Syria are counter to the positions Trump has frequently taken on US-Syria relations until this point. Trump had previously criticized efforts by the United States to undermine the Syrian government on the grounds that such an effort would only strengthen forces such as the Daesh. However, it is apparent that President Trump has decided to defer to the judgment and objectives of others with regards to US-Syria relations. Specifically, it would appear that President Trump has capitulated to the wider neoconservative/neoliberal consensus in favor of undermining and destroying governments around the world, particularly those in the Middle East, which refuse to be incorporated into the international geopolitical paradigm represented by the Washington Consensus. Syria under the leadership of President Assad has long since rejected such incorporation. Additionally, Syria is a close ally of Russia and this attack on Syria may be a means of undermining Russian influence in the region. Russia and China have moved closer together as partners within the BRICS axis in recent years, and the BRICS have subsequently been involved in creating a triangular alliance in opposition to the Atlanticist powers and their Zionist and Wahhabist allies in the Middle East. This triangular resistance has included the BRICS, the Shia-led Resistance Block (in which Syria is a partner), and various nations from the Global South, such as in Latin America.  This is just speculation at this point but perhaps this is an effort to disrupt the growth of such an alliance.

Tasnim: Furthermore, Russian warplanes heavily pounded terrorists’ positions in Idlib on Friday following the US attack. It seems that the situation is getting worse in the Middle East as well as the world. Do you believe that US and Russia are on road to a final collision? Do you think that the US is beating drums of World War III?

Preston: These events represent a dangerous escalation of the situation in the Middle East, including the undermining of the relationship between the United States and Russia. For example, Russia has now suspended cooperation with the United States with regards to combating terrorism in the region. This is in direct contradiction to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s previously stated objective of cooperation with Russia for the sake of curbing terrorism in the Middle East. A possibility is that US foreign policy officials have decided that efforts to pursue a closer relationship between the two nations have not produced satisfactory results, and are now developing a more antagonistic stance towards Russia. It could be that pressures that have been exercised from within the Deep State sectors of the US national security apparatus have been overwhelming and Trump has succumbed to these. It is interesting to consider, for example, that these attacks on Syria have taken place within days after Steven Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council. There is also evidence that the pro-Israeli forces within the United States have for years exercised considerable pressure on the United States to take action against Syria, and Trump has always had a very enthusiastically capitulating attitude towards the Israeli interests.

Tasnim: Before the attack on Homs, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said his country would welcome a possible US military campaign in Syria in the wake of the chemical attack in the Arab country’s northwestern province of Idlib. What is your take on the role of Turkey?

Preston: It is well-known that Turkey has been involved in providing support to terrorist organizations that are fighting against the government of President Assad. Turkey has long played a subservient role to US foreign policy objectives in the Middle East so it is not surprising that Turkey would voice support for the attacks against Syria. The government of President Erdogan has long considered Syria under the leadership of President Assad to be an unwanted geopolitical rival in the region. Turkey is also a NATO member that receives considerable economic and military support from the United States so it is natural that the Turkish government would have a deferent attitude towards US actions and objectives in the region.

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