Sputnik discussed the US' plans in Syria with Dr. Jeanne Zaino, American political analyst and professor of Political Science at Iona College.
Sputnik: How close in your view is the US to achieve its three stated goals in Syria as per the last 24 hours?
Dr. Jeanne Zaino: What we've heard from Nikki Haley in particular and from the president and the administration is the three stated goals are to ensure that chemical weapons are not used again, to defeat ISIS [Daesh*] and also a vantage point monitor Iran's activities.
The administration is saying that ISIS should be defeated in six months, there are many people including myself who would think that that is actually not the case, but that's what the administration is saying, obviously, in terms of the use of chemical weapons it's unknown how closely it would be to achieving that goal if you believe that they were actually used in the first place and there's some dispute on that here as well, and then in terms of the vantage point to watch Iran that's something that we would never achieve, we would be there to watch, so a long answer to your question is I think we're still a good ways off and if one of the stated goals is to be in the area to watch Iran's activities we would presumably be there an awfully long time.
Sputnik: The US troops stationed in Syria were not involved in the strikes this poses a very interesting question really, how can these troops actually make a difference? What is their role there if they were not getting actively involved in this particular strike? And also then the policing of the chemical weapons usage in the future with regard to Syria, what's your feeling about that?
Dr. Jeanne Zaino: It's incredibly interesting that the 2,000 troops that we have stationed there were not used in the attacks over the weekend and you add to that the fact that the French president has said he convinced President Trump to keep the troops in the area and President Trump and his spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders have refuted that and said that it's not the case, and, in fact, he would pull the troops out sooner rather than later.
So in terms of a long-term use of these troops to ensure, for instance, chemical weapons are not used again you hear the commander-in-chief and his spokesperson saying that, in fact, that's not in the offing, that they're being pulled out in the short-term, the president less than a week or two ago was saying within the next few weeks. So I don't think that there's any plans at this point for these troops to have much of a role in whatever the United States decides to do in terms of watching the chemical weapons or making sure they're not used again.
Sputnik: Is the audience in the United States confused as we are and in Russian, and Europe as well, there's a lot of conversation with regards to this in the UK as well, President Trump came to power with the commitment to say that he was not going to get involved with these kinds of conflicts in Syria, obviously, his hands must be tied with regard to that because that's exactly what he's affected really, although there's a lot of pressure from the experts and these executives that surround President Trump, what's the general feeling back in the United States regarding this?
Dr. Jeanne Zaino: The Washington Post has a story out today which describes the president as a reluctant pox saying that he has battled his top aids on Russia and lost, that he wanted to take a less strident in approached in several areas in the last few weeks that have soiled the relationship. For example, the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
Sputnik: What consequences could the prolonged US presence in Syria likely to have for the country? Is the American audience very negative about the situation? Do they want the troops out of Syria as much as the president? Is it the industrial military complex pressure being put to bear that is keeping these troops in Syria do you think?
Sputnik: The other interesting thing is that so there still no actual solid proof that there were chemical weapons or there was chemical nerve agents used in Syria adding of the fact that we have these strikes on these chemical factories or assets, or locations, and then one person in Britain actually said that well if there was a strike on these particular chemical factories or locations surely there would be chemical nerve agents in the area, it would've affected so many, hundreds of the local population, so how could that be relevant, how can that be accurate, it's mired in controversy the whole story with regard to these attacks, isn't it?
Dr. Jeanne Zaino: It absolutely is and I think there is from the distant point of the United States public, what we're seeing is an almost initial, and we see this a lot of times in these cases, sense of we will go along and support the administration when they're telling us this happened, but you do again see on the edges an increasing drumbeat of people saying wait a minute, hold on, where is the evidence, where is the proof of this, why would they have done this if it would impact their own troops, how could they have done this, they can't control the airflow, how could they have done this in such a calculated way that it only impacted a certain number of people and not their own troops.
*Daesh (Islamic state/ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia
The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Jeanne Zaino are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.