After a weekend of international anxiety following Western led-airstrikes in Syria on Saturday, the dust seems to have settled and it appears that, at least for now, the dreaded scenario of a military standoff between the West and Russia in the Middle East will not happen. However Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hayley, has told Fox News that US troops will now remain in the war-torn country until “goals are accomplished.”
Sputnik: The United States has of course said that it’ll be in Syria until its mission is accomplished – that’s at least according to Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hayley. Some say that the US’ military presence in the country only serves to exacerbate the conflict by fracturing it and undermining its territorial integrity, not to mention that it’s illegal – what do you say to that?
Arthur West: I think the situation is genuinely very worrying, and I think that the events of the last few years indicate that there needs to be a chance in approach, there needs to be urgent move toward trying to find political and diplomatic solutions which require all sides that’re involved, or seem to have a stake in this conflict, to come together and that needs to be done through the United Nations and other international channels.
Sputnik: Washington has said that it is “locked and loaded” if anything were to happen in Syria that it finds disagreeable – namely anything allegedly to do with chemical weapons. What do you think needs to be done from now to avoid a further escalation of tensions on the Syrian battlefield between the great powers?
Arthur West: Well I think what needs to be done is, as I say, there needs to be diplomatic and political efforts. I think that we need to build a UN peacekeeping and peace building capacity, but there needs to be first of all, an involvement of ambassadors from the various countries that’re involved. They need to come together and we need to get some ideas for resolving this in a peaceful way. We also need to have a pause and allow the chemical weapons inspectors to do their job. It’s very regrettable, to say the least, that the airstrikes were undertaken before the inspectors had actually even got into their situation. They need to be allowed to do their job, and there needs to be a calm and cool headed look at their findings.
From a CND (Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament) perspective, we’re urging all parties to really look at a way forward that ends the conflict and the personal tragedy that’s happening every day in Syria. There also needs to be a look at the refugee situation. It’s hypocritical in our view that the UK government are talking about the people of Syria, yet have steadfastly refused to accommodate anywhere near adequate numbers of people fleeing the conflict.
Sputnik: And finally, of course President Trump has thanked the UK and France for their participation in the air attacks on Syria, and proudly tweeted ‘mission accomplished’ – but what, to your mind, have these strikes actually achieved?
Arthur West: Well these strikes have achieved nothing really. I’m actually quite interested that people who might even think that this is down to the work of the Assad regime; I’ve heard a few commentators say that they have doubts as to whether these strikes will make any difference. All they’ve done is made the situation worse. Trump’s language, is frankly disgraceful. It goes without saying that the UK and France being involved is regrettable, particularly the UK where there’s been no reference to parliament whatsoever. I would be expecting the prime minister to have to answer some really hard questions about the situation. There’s been bombing going on in Syria for some time and it’s not done any good. The UK has been involved in collaborating and bombing I think since 2015, and it’s not done any good. It’s a hard road, but there really needs to be a way of finding a diplomatic and political solution to what is obviously a very complex series of problems, but we need to mobilize resources to do that.