President Trump took to Twitter on Sunday, responding to an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on civilians.
In his tweets, Trump calls Syrian President Bashar Al Assad an “animal,” and calls Russia and Iran responsible for backing Assad, mentioning a “big price to pay.”
The Syrian government and Russian government deny allegations of a chemical attack.
So what happens next?
“We’re all in the same boat, no one really knows,” said Nader Hashemi, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver.
“Fundamentally, no one knows because Donald Trump does not have a coherent and consistent Syria policy.”
In his tweets, Trump also blamed his predecessor, President Obama.
“If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!” Trump tweeted Sunday.
“President Obama struggled with the conflict in Syria, but he calculated that there was no core U.S. national interest to get involved in Syria in any significant way, except with respect to the rise of ISIS. And Donald Trump as effectively taken over the same position,” Hashemi said.
Just last week, Trump said he wanted to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Advisors disagreed.
“I think there’s been a consistent pattern here in US policy, both under Democratic and Republican administrations,” he continued. “There’s no real interest in getting involved to stop Assad’s war crimes and to fix the underlying political problems in Syria. There’s only an interest in getting involved with respect to ISIS.”
Hashemi guesses Trump could respond to this weekend’s alleged chemical attack in the same way he responded to a similar incident in Syria last year.
In April 2017, the U.S. launched a missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to another chemical attack on Syrian citizens.
“So I suspect, if one had to guess, we’re going to see some sort of repeat of what Donald Trump did last April,” he said. “A symbolic strike on assets of the Assad regime, to simply show that Donald Trump is a strong leader. And then once this conflict passes from the headlines, it’s back to square one. Everyone moves on from conflict in Syria and Bashar Al Assad and his allies will continue their conquest of all the territory.”
Early Monday morning, the state-run Syrian news agency reported a missile attack on an airbase was likely “American aggression.” A Pentagon spokesman denied those reports, and said the U.S. was not conducting air strikes in Syria.
Although it’s happening world away, Hashemi said the conflict in Syria has a global impact.
“The conflict in Syria is really a global problem. It’s not going to go away, and the consequences of eight years of massive suffering will destabilize not just the Middle East but will have ripple effects that will eventually affect us in one way or another.”