03:16 GMT23 October 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US strategy on Syria is shifting toward more active military involvement, despite President Donald Trump’s expressed desire to withdraw US troops from the country, and compounded by his appointment of John Bolton as his new National Security Adviser, analysts told Sputnik.

    On April 13, the United States, joined by the United Kingdom and France, fired over 100 cruise missiles at targets in Syria claiming it was a response to the alleged chemical attack in the Douma. The Syrian government has denied the claim saying the incident was staged by the Jaysh al-Islam terrorist group to justify a foreign intervention.

    READ MORE: Bolton & Pompeo: Deciphering Trump's Neocon Shift

    Following the missile strikes, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and its strike force have sailed to the eastern Mediterranean to add to the striking power of the US 6th Fleet in the region.

    Bolton, Neoconservatives Stepping Up Pressure on Trump

    Bolton and his neoconservative and other pro-war super-hawk allies in the administration and Congress are likely to intensify the pressure on Trump to step up military attacks on Syria, California State University Chico Professor Emeritus of Political Science Beau Grosscup advised.

    "If John Bolton and the neoconservatives have their way, the strikes will continue in the effort to end [Syrian President Bashar] Assad's regime or at best degrade his ability to 'win' the civil war," he said.

    Bolton’s appointment was a crucial turning point that meant neoconservative hawks determined to escalate US military involvement in Syria had taken over the National Security Council, Grosscup warned.

    READ MORE: 'Neocons Were Masterminds' of 2003 Iraq Invasion – Researcher

    "With the neo-conservative takeover of the National Security Council and Bolton whispering in Trump's ear, the strategy has changed from proxy war via ‘rebels' and a few advisers, to active US involvement to sustain the war or end it quickly with massive bombing," he said.

    This US strategy was very dangerous and risked setting off military confrontations with Russia, but Bolton and his allies were determined to pursue in order to sue US power to attack Iran, Grosscup predicted.

    "With the Russians in Syria, it is a flawed and dangerous strategy, but Bolton [and his political supporters] are bent on getting on to Iran, their, Saudi Arabia and Israel's real target," he said.

    US Missile Strikes Planned to Help Islamist Rebels

    The real reason for the US — and allied — missile strikes on April 13 was to help the Islamist militants who were on the brink of being defeated by the Syrian army, which is supported by Russia, Grosscup pointed out.

    "That was the point, along with turning neutral observers/actors against Russia and Iran for backing a 'criminal' Assad government and demonizing Russia for doing so in an effort to make the political and military price too high for Russia to continue doing so," he said.

    However, the continued Russian military presence in Syria was still likely to exercise some restraint on US willingness to launch widespread attacks against Damascus, Grosscup suggested.

    "With the Russians involved and 'deals' needing to be struck with them before each major strike, this will be a rare event occurring only when the use of chemical weapons (by rebels) is done to purposefully provoke a greater US response," he said.

    As in the past alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria since 2013, the United States knows it makes no strategic sense for the Assad government to employ them, Grosscup pointed out.

    "However, having successfully demonized former US ally Assad, aided by a compliant jingoistic corporate media, they need not wait for confirmation as to who is responsible," he said.

    Non-confirmation that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma and other alleged chemical attacks would only muddy the waters for the neocon narrative (as it has since 2013) requiring regime change in Syria, Grosscup explained.

    Trump, Mattis Want to Reduce US Involvement

    University of Louvain philosopher and political commentator Professor Jean Bricmont agreed that Bolton and most of Congress wanted to escalate the US military direct role in Syria even though Trump, supported by Secretary of Defense James Mattis wanted to scale it down.

    "I believe Trump and Mattis try not to escalate too much but Bolton, the media and most of Congress want such an escalation," he said.

    The conflict between Trump and Mattis against the hawks in their own administration, in the Pentagon and in Congress reflected a deeper division and confusion within the US government about Washington’s strategy and goals in Syria, Bricmont explained.

    "They don’t have a strategy because they are divided between an America First party and a neocon-humanitarian imperialist alliance that want more war, including here the pro-Israel lobby," he said.

    The April 13 missile strikes were deliberately planned to take place immediately before investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were due to investigate the alleged gas attack in Douma the week before, Bricmont observed.

    The strike was launched a day before OPCW experts arrived in Syria "to show contempt for truth and facts and the United Nations," he said.

    READ MORE: Smeared as ‘Russian Bot’, UK Man Demolishes Sky News Hosts, Slams ‘Neocon Wars’

    The strikes, however, did not damage any peace process in Syria because no such process in reality existed, Bricmont explained.

    "There is no peace process: either the government manages to crush the rebels or the war will go on indefinitely," Bricmont said.

    Russia is ready to accept the results of a qualified probe by the OPCW into the alleged Douma attack, Vladimir Ermakov, the director of the department of nonproliferation and arms control of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on Monday.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributors 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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    escalation, strategy, John Bolton, Syria, United States
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