00:22 GMT +316 December 2017
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    A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.

    Trump Yielding to Neocon Hawks on Syria Could ‘Set The Whole Region on Fire’

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    In a drastic change of direction the White House is beating a path toward intervention in Syria, after Tuesday’s alleged chemical attack. Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with author Catherine Shakdam about what may be behind the incident and what is motivating the US’ response.

    Alongside Jordan’s King Abdullah II, US President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday his views on Syria had “changed very much” after a chemical incident that reportedly killed 70 people.

    ​"I think he’s definitely making a very strong case for war against Syria," Shakdam said. "His administration came out as well saying that if the UN was not willing to intervene the US would have no recourse but to intervene and do something about it, which I find really hypocritical."

    She added, "The degree of hypocrisy, double standard and demagoguery is sickening at this stage, because well all know from the very moment he stepped into the White House, his administration has been trying to find a way into Syria."

    The political commentator pointed out that the use of "safe zones" in Syria proved ineffective, so now Washington is using this alleged attack as a pretext for battle, which she calls "very convenient, and suddenly everyone wants to go to war in 24 hours, it’s ridiculous." 

    Shakdam said there was no evidence that the chemical incident was purposeful, citing reports that the release of chemicals stemmed from a Syrian army airstrike on a Daesh warehouse that contained toxic chemical agents.

    She suggested that the idea of extremists possessing such dangerous substances is more frightening to her than "having Washington stage a boo-hoo moment trying to use the death of civilians, which is of course tragic in and of itself, to argue yet again for military intervention in a sovereign country."

    Loud and Clear host Brian Becker made note of what he called a "rapidly evolving trajectory within the Trump administration" following the ouster of Michael Flynn as national security advisor and more recently Steve Bannon as chief strategist.

    "If you look at the Trump administration as a coalition of right-wing populists, generals and very conservative billionaire oligarchs, part of that coalition was just forced out of a very important position," he said, asking Shakdam whether she thought an "internecine civil war" was being waged at the White House. 

    She said she did believe there was a "war within the establishment in Washington."

    "I think it’s very difficult because Syria has become a power broker, in the sense that everything will be decided on the fate of Syria. What happens here will determine how Washington will shape its future. It’s complicated and very dangerous right now to make any rash decision."

    Shakdam added that Trump’s penchant for knee-jerk decisions makes the situation even more volatile, "because any missteps could be completely catastrophic,” and that the wrong move in Syria could set off a chain of events that would “literally set the whole region on fire."

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    Tags:
    Syrian conflict, Bashar al-Assad, Donald Trump, United States, Syria
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