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    U.S. President Donald Trump reacts to a question from reporters during a lengthy news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 16, 2017.

    Ghost of Christmas Past: In 2013 Trump Publicly Warned Obama Not to Attack Syria

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    US Missile Attack on Syrian Air Base (200)
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    In 2013, Donald Trump, a fierce critic of the previous US administration, lambasted Barack Obama for considering a massive airstrike against forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad. In a series of vocal tweets, he suggested that such a move was "stupid," had no upside and would lead to "bad things" happening.

    Four years and countless tweets later Trump did what Obama ultimately decided not to do.

    ​On Thursday, Trump ordered a massive airstrike against a military base operated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The Pentagon launched 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) from USS Porter and USS Ross, two of its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers deployed to the eastern Mediterranean. The operation drew condemnation from Moscow and Damascus.

    The United States said that the missile airstrike was carried out in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack, which Washington and its allies blamed on Assad, although no proof has been provided. The SAA command denied the allegations. The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Syria Arab Air Force hit a large militant ammunition depot, which stored military hardware as well as chemical weapons intended for Iraq.

    This situation closely resembles what happened in 2013 when the Syrian government was accused of using toxic compounds against civilians in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus. These allegations were largely debunked, but the White House was for a time considering a military option against Assad, prompting Trump to go on a Twitter spree.

    "Again, to our very foolish leader, do not attack Syria. If you do many very bad things will happen," he wrote in caps lock on September 3, 2013, adding that the United States will not benefit from this decision in any way. 

    ​Several days later, Trump reiterated his message to Obama, saying that a military intervention would have no positive implications. "President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your 'powder' for another (and more important) day!" he tweeted.

    ​This is not to say that Trump completely ruled out the possibility of Washington launching a strike against Damascus. Although he was adamant that he would not choose a military option if he were at the helm. Trump urged the White House not to make the operation public before it took place. He also appeared to call on US leadership to be mindful of Russia's potential response to such a move.

    "I would not go into Syria, but if I did it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools," he tweeted August 29, 2013. "If we are going to continue to be stupid and go into Syria (watch Russia), as they say in the movies, shoot first and talk later!"

    ​True to his word, Trump made a statement on the Pentagon's attack after it was carried out, but he indicated that all options were on the table earlier Thursday.

    Interestingly, 10 months earlier, in October 2012, Trump suggested that Obama could boost his ratings by carrying out a military operation in the Middle East. "Now that Obama's poll numbers are in tailspin watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate," Trump said.

    ​According to the Rasmussen Reports, a company which tracks presidential approval ratings on a daily basis, 46 percent of likely US voters approved of Trump's job performance, while 54 percent did not. The latest survey was released April 6, prior to the attack. To put this into perspective, in October 2012, 50 percent of respondent said that they approved of Obama's job performance.

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    US Missile Attack on Syrian Air Base (200)

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    Tags:
    Syrian crisis, Syrian conflict, airstrike, Bashar al-Assad, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Syria, United States
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