Trump card could of­fer some hope in des­per­ate war zone

Birmingham Post - - FEATURE -

by dump­ing chem­i­cal weapons on Douma.

The town, a sub­urb of Da­m­as­cus, saw more than 500 mostly women and chil­dren af­fected with at least 70 dy­ing a tor­tu­ous death.

Trump, who crit­i­cised his pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama for al­low­ing red lines in Syria to be crossed with­out re­tal­i­a­tion, ought now to recog­nise the As­sad regime and its Rus­sian and Ira­nian al­lies are as happy to take ad­van­tage of any per­ceived feck­less­ness as they did in the past.

Last year’s air strikes by Trump fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar at­tack by As­sad proved that the despot and his en­ablers have not been deterred.

Vladimir Putin and the ay­a­tol­lahs came to be­lieve they could do what they wanted in Syria, backed up re­cently by Trump’s plans to call for an early with­drawal of 2,000 troops there.

The Pres­i­dent fur­ther re­in­forced a sense of im­punity ev­ery time he ex­empted Putin from di­rect crit­i­cism for Rus­sia’s dis­grace­ful ac­tions.

So this week was a ma­jor step for­ward when Trump fi­nally drew a line, say­ing in a tweet, “Pres­i­dent Putin, Rus­sia and Iran are re­spon­si­ble for back­ing An­i­mal As­sad”.

The ques­tion is what comes next, as a few cruise mis­siles won’t change any­thing in the war-torn Mid­dle Eastern coun­try.

As wel­come as force­ful mil­i­tary ac­tion against the despot and his regime will be, there’s no guar­an­tee it will al­le­vi­ate a sin­gle Syr­ian’s suf­fer­ing.

An eas­ier non-mil­i­tary step would pay far larger div­i­dends in that re­spect, but it is one Trump is loathe to take.

Since 2012, as a sav­age civil war has left more than 500,000 Syr­i­ans dead, two Amer­i­can pres­i­dents have toyed with us­ing the mil­i­tary to pun­ish the As­sad regime for chem­i­cal at­tacks.

Both came to noth­ing, only strength­en­ing As­sad’s re­solve while tight­en­ing his grip on the coun­try.

But now, with Trump’s pro­fessed con­cern for the vic­tims of the chem­i­cal bru­tal­ity, hope­fully it may bring about a swift change in Amer­i­can pol­icy.

The cruel, col­lec­tive re­fusal to ac­cept more than the tini­est trickle of refugees flee­ing the hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter is at odds with the Pres­i­dent’s sup­posed com­pas­sion.

More than five and a half mil­lion Syr­i­ans are reg­is­tered as refugees.

Some 60 per cent are in Turk­ish camps or set­tle­ments while most of the rest are in Le­banon or Jor­dan.

In the face of this mass ex­o­dus from As­sad’s bar­bar­ity, Trump has capped Amer­ica’s refugee re­set­tle­ment quota at 45,000, the low­est in his­tory.

What’s more Amer­ica – his­tor­i­cally a haven for vic­tims of war-torn coun­tries – has re­set­tled fewer than 11,000 refugees.

Just 44 of those are from Syria.

In an at­tempt to jus­tify the bru­tally low num­bers al­lowed in, Trump con­tin­ues to vil­ify would-be refugees, women and chil­dren in­cluded, as im­me­di­ate se­cu­rity threats. It is be­yond ridicu­lous.

By all means send a message to As­sad with air strikes and mis­siles but more im­por­tantly, as the world grows ever more numb to the slaugh­ter of civil­ians in Syria, open the doors to those in need. SO Elvis Pres­ley’s ex-wife Priscilla has claimed the King know­ingly took his own life when he died from a drug-re­lated heart at­tack. The bomb­shell rev­e­la­tion comes just four months after the dis­cov­ery of two sui­cide notes pur­port­edly writ­ten by the star. The 72-year-old made the ad­mis­sion ahead of the pre­miere of the new HBO doc­u­men­tary, Elvis Pres­ley: The Searcher, which looks into the singer’s con­nec­tion to Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. In the pro­gramme, which is due to air on Satur­day, Priscilla opens up about the depths of ad­dic­tion of her late ex-hus­band. She said he “knew what he was do­ing”. It baf­fles me, why after all these years, the King’s mem­ory is now all shook up. Didn’t Priscilla once say “Rest in peace, Elvis”. If only that were the case.

An eas­ier non­mil­i­tary step would pay far larger div­i­dends but it is one Trump is loathe to take

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