15:50 GMT28 February 2020
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    Tensions Mount as Douma Provocation Triggers Syria Strike Threat (107)

    Donald Trump said there's no specific timeline for US strikes in Syria after he promised airstrikes to hit Syrian targets in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma. Sputnik discussed the situation in Syria with Dr. Meir Elran from the Institute for National Security Studies.

    Sputnik: What are your thoughts about the situation in Douma?

    Dr. Meir Elran: Let me put it this way, I think that the situation in Syria has been a very dire one for seven years now, and the problem is that the disintegration of the Syrian state during this period and the civil war that is going on there, it's a very explosive situation, not only for Syria itself but also for the Middle East in general and for the world I think, and because of the vacuum, the lack of a structural political regime in Syria lots of different parties have been finding themselves drawn into the swamp in Syria, so to speak, and gradually it became a battleground for different kinds external powers that are playing a very dangerous role over there, that's why I think that presently the situation has deteriorated to an extent that can really exacerbate not only the Syrian situation but also might explode into a very serious crisis that nobody I think is interested in.

    READ MORE: Trump's Threats to Attack Syria Nothing but Mere Bluff – Academic

    Sputnik: Do you share the opinion of Western states which say that Damascus was responsible for the chemical attack in Douma?

    Dr. Meir Elran: Well I don't know what happened for sure, they're still investigating what happened exactly in Douma; there are different reports, I'm not in a position to say whether I'm certain that this was the case and what kind of a tactical means the Syrian military used or did not use, but I think that if it is found to be true that the Syrians actually used unwarranted, dangerous chemical weapons against their own civilians this would be a very unfortunate situation that calls for not only retaliation but actually for means to stop this once and for all.

    Sputnik: And what is Israel's position on Syria now regarding the ongoing escalation of tensions close to Israeli borders?

    Dr. Meir Elran: Well Israel is very clear about it, unfortunately, unlike other countries that make their positions quite vague, Israel is in a position not to interfere in the internal situation in Syria, but, on the other hand, it has two very important redlines: one is not to use Syria as a platform to arm the Hezbollah with sophisticated weapons, this is one thing; and the other thing is that Iranians would not enhance their military position in Syria in the way that will jeopardize the interests of Israel; so those two things are very important for us, but apart from that Israel is not intervening in the domestic affairs of Syria even though many of us are very, very weary about what is going on there and especially from the humanitarian situation there which has been deteriorating ever since the beginning of the conflict.

    Sputnik: What does Israel think about the US plans concerning Syria?

    Dr. Meir Elran: I don't know exactly what Israel things but I think it's very important that there will be some kind of an advance towards stability in Syria. This is something I think that everybody needs and this is something also that Israel really needs; so if you ask me, instead of the US and Russia quarreling with each other and being on the verge of deterioration between them, it is best for them to sit together to try to find some kind of common ground as to restore stability in Syria and I think this is something very important not only for the Syrians but all other concerns in the region.

    READ MORE: Militants Were Ordered to Attack in Syria After Possible US Strike — Moscow

    Sputnik: Can you comment on the recent tweet by Donald Trump who said that missiles will be flying soon to Syria? Do you think this will contribute to stabilization?

    Dr. Meir Elran: I don't want to comment on what President Trump is saying or not saying on Twitter but I would like to say that is very important again that the US takes a responsible position together with other partners and is doing it with other countries like Great Britain, France, Germany and hopefully Russia will join in also in concerted efforts to change the deteriorating situation in Syria and to transform it towards more stability and, perhaps, even an end to this very unfortunate situation that we've witnessed.

    Sputnik: What exactly will Israel be doing now, I mean there's a looming US attack on Syria, Donald Trump promised a forceful response after news that an alleged chemical attack occurred in Douma…

    Dr. Meir Elran: I think it's important for Israel, first of all, to keep up its own interests, this is the number one issue, the second one is stability in Syria, the third one is to keep the Iranians out of Syria as much as possible, and the last thing is that Israel should be very, very careful about its relations and possible confrontation with the Iranians, this is the number one issue for us and it is an immediate issue… Iran is playing a very complicated and very dangerous role in Syria, and it is directed also against Israel and I think it is in Russian interest to keep the Iranians away from any kind of confrontation against Israel.

    READ MORE: Israel is Not a Player in Syrian Tensions — Research Fellow

    Sputnik: In your opinion what needs to be done to bring peace to Syria?

    Dr. Meir Elran: As I've said, I think that the most important thing is to look for a responsible adult here, this is not happening, and as far as I'm concerned, my vision, or my idea would be that the important powers in the world mainly, of course, the United States and Russia together with the Security Council, perhaps, or with other powers will start negotiations very, very soon, not on their own particular interest but on restoring stability and ending the civil war in Syria; this leads us nowhere, this only deteriorates and makes the situation worse, so for us and also for the Syrian people and for the Middle East in general, I think that this has to stop — the sooner the better.

    The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Meir Elran are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.



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

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