Given that this website is a platform for my career as a fiction author, I tend to avoid speaking out about current events. Considering the gravitas of today’s events, however, I feel that opening dialogues about what is happening is the only responsible thing to do.
For those who may not be caught up, I will briefly overview the events leading up to our current crisis. Syria has been embroiled in a civil war for seven years. The official government, referred to as the Assad Regime, has been fighting against political rebels. Also, Kurdish groups in the North of Syria have unofficially split off and declared independence. Finally, ISIS has been fighting to carve out their own “Caliphate” in lands traditionally held by Syria and Iraq. Backing the Assad Regime, Iran and Russia are involved. Turkey has also backed some rebel groups, but also has taken military actions against the Kurdish faction. Backing the rebels, the U.S. has been a major player. On April 4, 2017 there was a chemical weapon attack on the rebels by the regime, which elicited a military response from the Trump administration. For more detail, the video below (c/o Vox) is a great summary of the events up to that point.
Fast forward to March 4, 2018. A former Russian intelligence officer and current British spy was attacked in Salisbury, England. The method of the action was use of a nerve agent called Novichok, a chemical weapon developed in the soviet era U.S.S.R. The government of the United Kingdom made claims that the Russian government was involved in the attacks, and as a result they expelled Russian diplomats from the U.K., supported by similar actions by 28 other nations. Russian officials denied involvement. Read more on this here. (c/o Wikipedia)
On April 7, 2018 another chemical weapon attack took place in Syria. This event occurred in Douma, near the Syrian capitol of Damascus. Over 70 people have died in the attack, with many more ill or injured as a result. Testing of the victims has revealed a mixture of nerve agents and chlorine gas were used. The event in Douma has been condemned by the international community. Russia has alleged that Great Britain orchestrated the attack in response to the Salisbury poisoning to manufacture justification for action against the Assad regime. British officials have denied these claims.
Following these actions, several resolutions were put forward in the United Nations Security Council in the interest of establishing independent investigations into the attack in Douma. Russia used their power of veto to deny any such endeavor. The security council consists of 15 member nations, five of which hold permanent seats. These are held by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France, China, and the Russian Federation. Only these five nations may exercise the power to veto a security council resolution. The other ten seats are elected positions held for two-year terms.
This morning, a joint strike was carried out by military forces of the United States, Great Britain, and France. Russia was warned of the strikes before they happened, although they were not given information on specific targets. Russian and Iranian forces on the ground in Syria were specifically avoided by the strikes. This combined strike involving missiles launched from naval platforms and manned aircraft struck out at three targets considered to be involved in the research, production, storage, and distribution of Syrian chemical weapons. Over 100 cruise missiles were launched against these targets.
U.S. officials, including President Trump, have claimed that the attacks were a success. Both Syrian and Russian leaders claim that the majority of the missiles were intercepted by an air defense grid installed by Russia on Syrian soil. According to the Syrian government-sponsored television station, three civilians were killed by a missile strike that missed it’s intended target. An alleged chemical weapon research facility in the capitol of Damascus was one of the targets, but this is being referred to by the Syrian government as an education and research facility. More on all of this can be found here, c/o The Sun.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has called an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the allied air strike on Syria. This meeting is to take place at 3pm GMT at the U.N. in New York City. What happens next in regards to this crisis depends upon the events of this meeting. The world in which we live may very well change over the next few hours.
As a former member of the United States Army Chemical Corps, I have received thorough training and education involving chemical weapons. I can say that the effect that chemical weapons have on the human body is nothing short of horrific. Experiencing such an attack can be considered among the most frightening and painful experiences imaginable. Any use of such an indiscriminate and inhumane weapon is an atrocity, and this is a fact that no sane person would argue against. Be it against a military or a civilian target, the use of chemical weapons has been condemned by the international community as a criminal action since the end of World War I.
There is no doubt that some sort of reaction to the chemical weapon attack on Douma was required. Whether the action that occurred this morning was the best course of action, or the only option, is still under debate. What consequences will occur because of this retaliation is left to be seen. The end result of the crisis in Syria may only be determined by future historians. As of now, we can only hope for a peaceful resolution.