Is Trump being duped (again) in Syria?

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS -- U.S. President Donald Trump decided last week that America's primary mission in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State and that it's now time to leave. Trump said that the operation is "very costly for our country and it helps other countries a helluva lot more than it helps us."

Trump didn't specify which countries he was referring to, but I'll give him a hand: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both would like to eliminate regional opposition by the current Syrian and Iranian governments. Trump is absolutely correct that the American people gain nothing from U.S. participation in this conflict. The American defense industry might gain something, since it's an excuse to launch some pricey missiles that will need replacing. The Washington establishment might gain something as well, because the conflict benefits lobbyists sponsored by foreign and military-industrial interests.

It's been reported that CIA director Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, is against a quick drawdown, as are Pentagon sources who are purportedly worried that leaving prematurely could allow ISIS to return to eastern Syria.

Oh, please. They aren't worried about ISIS returning so much as they're worried about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regaining control of the entire country by eliminating foreign-sponsored "rebel" fighters. If Assad regains full control, the U.S. and its allies won't be able to partition Syria and carve off a fully controllable political and economic foothold for themselves.

The Israel-Saudi-Washington axis doesn't want war in Syria to end unless it's to their advantage. It should have come as no surprise that just days after Trump announced his intention to withdraw troops from Syria, the world was informed of a chemical attack attributed to Assad's forces. How convenient. Israel quickly swooped in with F15 fighter jets and fired missiles at a Syrian air base, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Russia's head of operations in Syria, Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, had predicted this ploy last month.

"We have received from (Syria) information about provocations involving chemical warfare agents," Yevtushenko said. "The provocations aim to put the blame for the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta on the government forces. That is why the action is being prepared close to the contact line with the Syrian army. The civilian victims will be used by the West as a pretext for accusing the Syrian leadership of the use of chemical weapons against its people."

The Russian Defense Ministry had also warned that the al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army would film an alleged chemical attack in order to blame Assad for the death of civilians.

The mysterious Syrian Civil Defense "White Helmets," who seem to be the only filmmakers in the world capable of shooting full-length documentaries inside zones controlled by terrorists, provided the images that provoked an angry response from the White House.

And just like that, Trump was pulled back into the Syrian conflict.

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump tweeted. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price..."

Mr. President, Russia warned that this would happen in an attempt to provoke you. What you should be doing instead of spouting off knee-jerk reactions on social media is gathering intelligence on the "incident" and on the credibility of the sources that reported it.

When a sarin gas attack was attributed to Assad in April 2017, you blew your stack over some images, Mr. President, and launched a few dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles (estimated price tag: $1.87 million each) at a mostly empty airbase. Neocon warmongers cheered for about 15 seconds before resuming their opposition to you. After the dust had settled, Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted that America had no evidence sarin gas had been used.

"We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it's been used," Mattis said. "We do not have evidence of it."

Instead of being egged on by people with various agendas to launch more missiles, only to find out later that the evidence didn't justify it, how about calmly collecting the evidence first, without bias as to where it might lead?