Will Western strikes affect Syrian war?

Do you think that strikes in Syria might have some effect to prevent future use of chemical weapons by the regime, do you see any other effects strikes may have? Read few comments.

Amin Saikal, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, Australian National University

I do not think that the US-led strikes are likely to alter the situation on the ground. The Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian supporters will continue their push to eliminate all forms of opposition, especially in light of the Western coalition having substantially helped to fold up the so-called Islamic State territorially in Syria. However, what would achieving a victory for the Assad regime and its supporters over a largely destroyed and Balkanised country, with half a million of of its citizens killed, and many more hundreds of thousands injured and millions exiled, mean? All this is going to pose the biggest challenge to the Assad regime and for that matter Moscow and Tehran. The US and its allies, Britain and France, have been very careful to hit only those few targets that will neither dramatically degrade the conventional military capability of the Assad regime nor force Russia and Iran to abandon their interests in Syria. What it does is make a show of military power, especially to Moscow and Tehran. Ultimately, they know that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis, only a political one. Moscow and Tehran could make a serious difference in this respect, if they rethink their support for Assad per se.

Fanar Haddad, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore

The United States and its allies have clearly signaled that chemical weapons are not only a red line but a red line that will be enforced. I think it is a fair assumption that future uses of chemical weapons will elicit a similar if not larger response – a political precedent has been set. However, unfortunately, this is more political theatre than political strategy. The fundamental dynamics of the Syrian conflict are not affected by these strikes nor is the regime’s survival brought into question. If the mission was to slap Assad on the wrist for using chemical weapons while allowing the rest of his killing machine to proceed unhindered then this modest mission was indeed accomplished.

Anthony Billingsley, Senior Lecturer of International Relations, School of Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney

I think the decision to use chemical weapons will relate more to the priorities of the regime in Damascus than to outside influence. I assume Iran is not happy with the resort to chemical weapons but that the Russian government is more relaxed about their use. The need is for the US and Russia to negotiate seriously to have this form of weapon removed.

I don’t think the strikes have had any material impact on the regime and, instead, reinforce the view that the West will have to deal with Assad if it is to allow a political settlement of the war.

Assad may not feel the need to use chemical weapons in the future as he has effectively won the war and with allied support only needs to focus on mopping up. The challenge is in the north where Turkey, the US, the Kurds, Russia, Hizballah and Iran hare all involved with the Syrian government in pursuing various agendas. That is where miscalculations and provocations might lead to something more dangerous.

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