Syria in 2018 is not Iraq in 2003

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad at Al Jazeera:

97e2f29394a84c7ab11774de2c2a3c78_18Last Saturday, when the United States, the UK and France launched strikes on three chemical facilities in Syria, the move was met with disapproval in some quarters. The pre-announced spectacle blew up three buildings and took no lives, but some pronounced it a "dangerous escalation". Some spoke of its "illegality". All complained about its disregard for the OPCW investigation.

The action, which lasted less than an hour, was an escalation only if everything that preceded it was normal. By this reckoning, Syria has now returned to its status quo of genocide by the Assad regime.

The action was illegal only if by legality we mean approval by the UN Security Council. But the Security Council is not a neutral adjudicating authority like a court. Its decisions are constrained by the interests of its permanent members. To say an action is "legal", in this case, would be to say: "Vladimir Putin approved".

What then of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation?

This depends on what answer is being sought. Because the OPCW's remit does not include apportioning blame. Untrammelled access for the OPCW would have merely proved what was already known: that a chemical attack took place. It would not have resolved the manufactured controversy over who was responsible (manufactured, because there is only one party in Syria with the means, intention and history of deploying chemical weapons by air).

But had the OPCW confirmed Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's responsibility, what consequences should have followed?

More here.