In the wake of US-led airstrikes on Syria, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, questioned the impact of Western led military strikes in shifting the course of the seven-year war. Gerecht also discussed the possible impact of the withdrawal of US forces from Syria.
Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies
"I don't think the US President will back out of it, back down. But the issue is what he strikes and when he strikes it, whether he's really going to go after anything meaningful or will it be more or less a sustained pinprick, you might say. I mean the strikes that he did before, I mean really didn't have any significant repercussions in Syria. There was a momentary spasm, momentary fear of what President Trump might do. And then it quickly faded. Let's be frank, the vast majority of all the people who've been slaughtered in Syria have not been slaughtered by gas, they've been slaughtered by conventional weaponry. And the United States has done nothing to stop that."
"Is this going to have a significant strategic impact? I'm sceptical. We'll have to wait and see. If the attack were against you know, substantial Syrian militia units, if it were against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, if it were also to hit Russian equipment, then you'd have a different equation. But until we see that, we just don't know."
"At most, it would be another warning to the Assad axis, to Moscow, to Tehran not to use poison gas, but it would probably be a green light for them to use whatever else they want. So again, unless this is a more strategic signal that the President wants to send, essentially shifting away from his past policy, I don't think it's probably going to mean all that much."
"Now if President Trump withdraws his forces, then the repercussions for the region are enormous. Iran will obviously be the victor, the Russians will look at it as an American defeat. The Jordanians are staring at another possible refugee maelstrom and are terrified that the Americans are going to withdraw and the Turks will be in a real pickle - more of a pickle than they already are. And the Iranians and Russians will be able to flail them more."
"I don't think the American response is going to signal a new strategic approach. I don't think it means that we are finally willing to take on the Iranians in Syria, that we're willing to check the Russians. I suspect that this will be - and I certainly fear it will be - sort of the last gasp of American vigour, American muscle, before President Trump decides to withdraw Special Forces from Syria, which as I said, will certainly be a disaster for our allies in the region."