Consequences of the U.S military intervention in Syria
On 6 April, the U.S carried out its first direct military intervention against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the chemical weapons attack on 4 April. This unilateral action by the U.S has brought mixed reaction among global communities. The Western allies and countries supporting rebel groups in Syria, such as Turkey and Saudi Arab, expressed their support for Washington's missile strikes, calling them a fair response to Syrian government's suspected use of chemical weapons. Whereas, supporters of the Assad regime, Russia and Iran, have condemned the attack, criticizing it as a violation of international laws which encourages the spirit of terrorism. This military action could be valuable in terms of deterring the use of chemical weapons, however; the attack seems to discourage long term peace building process in Syria because the unilateral action of the U.S makes political talks even harder to continue.
As claimed by the U.S and its allies, the U.S intervention could deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons in Syria. The U.S missiles on Syria's Shayrat airbase destroyed about 20% of the Syrian government's operational aircraft. President Trump said: "We are not going into Syria" [i] , the strikes have a limited purpose to warn the Syrian government that any use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated. Syrian government's suspected use of chemical weapons left more than 85 people dead and hundreds more injured. In this matter, the attack is morally understandable and justified on humanitarian basis.
However, the unilateral military intervention may discourage the UN diplomacy to achieve its goal to build sustainable peace in Syria through political dialogues. In the aftermath of the US strikes, it must be hard to find common ground over Syria in the Security Council, especially when Russia blames the U.S for taking actions without conducting a neutral field investigation on the alleged use of chemical weapons. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the US strikes on Syria "completely ruined" the U.S.-Russian relations. Similarly, now it is going to be hard to bring the Syrian government into negotiations at the UN when Damascus sees the U.S intervention as "foolish and irresponsible". Consequently, UN diplomacy over Syrian crisis can be disturbed in short term.
Moreover, there is concern on further escalation of the crisis and possible restrictions by the Assad forces on UN humanitarian works in Syria as consequences of the U.S attacks. After the U.S attacks, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said " Mindful of the risk of escalation, I appeal for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people " and stressed the importance of accountability for such crimes in line with existing international norms and Security Council resolutions.[ii] By this message, he raised his concern that the U.S strikes could escalate the conflict and implicitly criticized the unilateral measure of the U.S without a mandate from the UN Security Council. According to the UN Charter, all five great international powers, must, as permanent members, approve of a military attack. Or in exceptional cases - if there is no UN mandate - a case must be made for self-defense. [iii] Thus, the U.S action clearly undermined the UN regulations, so that it may discourage other parties in Syrian crisis to act within the framework of the UN.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the UN mediated peace talks have repeatedly failed to bring the parties into agreements. It is a real challenge to reach a consensus at the Security Council when the permanent members hold different perspectives over Syria. Russia has blocked seven resolutions over Syria so far, preventing to put real pressure on the Assad regime. [iv] Yet, in long term, it seems that only a political solution could end the war because the conflict is not just a battle between those for or against Mr Assad, and there are a range of interest groups backed by different countries. It is thought that there could have been as many as 1,000 different groups since the conflict began.[v] Many of them are believed to be supported by external powers. If there is no political solution, the conflict is likely to continue with no major defeat. Thus, sooner or later, the involved parties, including major powers on the Security Council, ultimately have to reach political compromises to end the bloody and complex war.
[i] BBC news at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39573744.
[ii] UN news 2017, " Syria: As US responds militarily to chemical attack, UN urges restraint to avoid escalation", UN news at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56524.
[iii] Interview with International law expert Stefan Talmon seen at http://www.dw.com/en/us-missile-strike-on-syria-a-violation-of-international-law/a-38389950.
[iv] Richard Gowan 2017, "U.S Strikes on Syria will make any UN deal even harder", World Political Review.
[v] BBC news at http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/16979186.