04:55 GMT11 August 2020
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    Tensions Mount as Douma Provocation Triggers Syria Strike Threat (107)

    Trump has warned Russia to "get ready" as missiles will be coming at Syria, "nice, new and smart," after Moscow promised to shoot down any missiles fired at Syria. This comes after an alleged chemical attack in Douma. Sputnik discussed this with Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, director of the Center for Islamic Studies and Civilisation at CSU.

    Sputnik: What can you say about the recent events in Syria?

    Mehmet Ozalp: It's pretty confusing, as an outsider we don't really know what's going on, there are conflicting stories that coming out, each party is blaming one another, but what is really beyond all of that is, what appears to be, whoever is behind these bombings and strikes really want to shift the policy of Trump in Syria in my opinion. The expectation was that the US was here to stay for a long time in Syria, multiple announcements from the US administration that the United States was going to stay in the Eastern Syria backed up by the Kurdish fighters and regions and fight against ISIS [Daesh], it appeared that that was the policy until President Trump announced that the US would withdraw from Syria as soon as possible, that really shifted the balance in the country and the region really, but the latest development seems to have put Trump back into Syria and even more forcefully, but we are yet to find out what they will decide to do, but I see it as a glitch in the US policy, US is now oriented back into Syria.

    READ MORE: Putin Urges Netanyahu to Avoid Actions That Destabilize Syria's Sovereignty

    Sputnik: Who's interested in US presence in Syria?

    Mehmet Ozalp: Well, that's very hard to identify because we don't who's really behind these attacks, Bashar al-Assad's regime is blamed for it because they've got the weapons and it would be crazy for him to launch any chemical attack, although, I personally do not condone Bashar al-Assad's policies, it would be a crazy move to do anything with chemical weapons.

    He is backed very strongly by Russia and he was on the course of gaining victory in much of Syria and that's what it appears that we may be moving towards Bashar al-Assad dominated politics in Syria, and there was an earlier meeting between Russia, Turkey and Iran, and they have announced that they were supporting unitary or keeping Syria as a single country which, basically, means that Bashar al-Assad remains as president.

    So everything was going in favor of Bashar al-Assad, even Trump's withdrawal from Syria was in his favor, and all of a sudden this development happens, I think that the players in the Middle East and I'm not in the position, it would be speculation that I were, whose interest was not in US's withdrawal were disturbed by Trump's announcement and they wanted to change that.

    Sputnik: So what about the reaction and what do you expect, what do you think is going to happen?

    Mehmet Ozalp: My expectation is that the United States will take a diplomatic step, perhaps, with the United Nations that may also include an inspection of the facilities and the area, there could be a few missile strikes to keep places in Syria, but more permanently, this third option, there will need to be a long-term policy by the United States and my expectation is that Trump may announce that US will have a long-term presence in Syria.

    Sputnik: Do you think that's really going to change the US policy to where they're going to want to stay?

    Mehmet Ozalp: I don't think there will be an extensive strike, it could be just certain target strikes but the main thing is what will the US do in Syria for the long-term that's the main question. In the short-term nothing will change with just a few strikes here and there but it's very difficult to find any rationale in Trump's behavior or policies, or statements, I think we need to stop doing that and rather listen to what others are saying in the administration and it looks like the US administration was very much against Trump's decision to move out of Syria quickly. They believe that could revive ISIS in the region and actually Turkey is another element within that because we have Turkish President Erdogan announce that after the summit between Russia Turkey and Iran that they would move towards eradicating all "terrorists" the Kurdish terrorists in his view which just about covers all of northern Syria and that certainly would curtail ISIS or give ISIS the grounds to reemerge in the region, it would be crazy to move out of Syria for that reason.

    *Daesh is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and other countries.

    The views of the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tensions Mount as Douma Provocation Triggers Syria Strike Threat (107)


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