Sputnik: Sebastiano, what do you make of the alleged chemical attack on Douma and its exacerbation of the Syrian conflict?
Sebastiano Caputo: I was able to follow very closely all the latest events in the Syrian conflict, having been in the country throughout the month of March. Three weeks ago, when I was in Damascus, I attended a press conference organized by the Syrian defense ministry in which Russian and Syrian generals took part. Three weeks ago, the speakers at this press event warned that the Western media, with the support of regional media, would trigger a media campaign related to chemical weapons. We see now how these predictions came true, and really did turn into a media campaign around an alleged chemical attack.
The Western media write about this attack without providing any evidence; the only ones who have the evidence are the military personnel on the ground in Douma, i.e. the Russian and Syrian militaries. They are the only ones with a right to talk about evidence. We have seen how, at the UN Security Council, the Americans prevented an independent inquiry proposed by the Russian ambassador. They did so because they know that unlike themselves, the Russians could present irrefutable evidence.
Sputnik: President Trump has spoken of new military strikes against Syria. Where can this lead?
Sebastiano Caputo: With Trump we are living through a historically revolutionary period in terms of politics and the media. This is a president who can, in the space of an hour, send out numerous tweets contradicting one another. His administration is clearly divided: this includes the neocons, who want war in Syria because they have lost this war. Their goal is to return the old order of things in the Middle East, and only through such aggressive steps can they provide themselves with a stronger position at the negotiating table.
Trump's game is not clear; he obviously wants to create confusion within his own administration in order to reduce pressures against him by the military-industrial complex. We could see a situation similar to the one with North Korea from some months back. There too was a discussion of a possible military confrontation, but in the end this did not happen, and on the contrary, there is now the idea that Kim Jong-un and Trump could meet. It's also worth noting that Syria, unlike previous historical cases, has a rather well-developed air and missile defense system; one shouldn't forget about the Russian systems in the country. In short, the situation is very difficult, and could lead to an even more serious crisis.
Sebastiano Caputo: Despite its limited sovereignty, Italy has a level of political independence, linked to the fact that we are not a superpower with the right of veto at the UN Security Council. This allows us to step out against diktats coming out of Washington. Just a few weeks ago, Italy received Ali Mamlouk, the head of the Syrian secret service. The visit was…a break with Western foreign policy. This was an unusual visit in that this person cannot freely travel in Europe, yet he was welcomed by our foreign ministry and the head of AISE, (Italy's special services).
It's worth remembering that during the attack on Libya, Italy first stepped out against the aggression, but was forced to yield when [NATO] threatened to bomb the Eni oil company's offices on Libyan territory. In today's context, Sigonella plays a very important role, and contains America's most important base in the Mediterranean. We can only hope that Italy will not yield, because going against Syria means going against our national interests. Unfortunately, at the moment we find ourselves in a situation where the government has resigned; nevertheless, the center-right coalition and the 5-Star Movement are against the war. We have generally done everything right; we'll see how the situation evolves. In the case of Libya, we also did everything right at first, but gave in in the end.
The views and opinions expressed by Sebastiano Caputo are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The Italian government has confirmed that it will not be taking part in any NATO military operation against Syria.