President Trump reacts to alleged violation of international law by the Syrian government


Luke Dalessandro, Politics Editor

Four years after the government of Bashar Al Assad declared renouncement of chemical weapons after American Intelligence agencies came to the conclusion that a large scale chemical attack was carried out by government forces, Syria now faces the aftermath of its worst chemical bombing in recent years.

The attack, which incited international denunciation over alleged continuation of government aggression in the six year civil war, resulted in President Trump calling on Syria as well as its allies, Iran and Russia, to prevent a recurrence of the chemical weapons attack. With statistics disclosed by the Health Department in Idlib Province, the attack’s site, a minimum of 69 identified individuals have died as a direct result of the attack. However, consistent with his reactions to historical allegations of using chemical munitions, the Syrian president denied his military played an active role in carrying out the attack.

In alleged reaction to the attacks, President Trump launched 59 tomahawk missiles against the government controlled Shayrat air base on Thursday, where U.S intelligence claims the chemical attacks came from. Trump ordered the strikes without gaining an official declaration approval from Congress. According to U.S officials President Trump had the right to exercise military force to defend national interests and non military targets. When announcing the attack, President Trump proclaimed there was no reasonable doubt that government forces had conducted the civilian attack, despite their chemical weapons stockpiles allegedly being stripped according to a 2013 agreement. The president declared from his Florida resort, “Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson partially blamed Russia as an actor in forcing the U.S to intervene stating, “Either Russia has been complicit or Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of the agreement. “Amidst a push for a diplomatic end to the civil war, Tillerson claimed in relation to creating a unified Syria, “Our hope is Bashar Al Assad will not be a part of that future.” Since mutiny against the secular dictator began as part of the Arab Spring movement in 2011, the composition of the rebel presence in Syria has been persistently adapted. The presence of Al Nusra Front and ISIS within the rebels has been a consistent threat, with many suggesting the leadership in Syria appearing to be what would succeed Assad is potentially a worse dictatorial and theocratic establishment than the current regime. Furthermore, according to a report by The Centre on Religion and Geopolitics approximately 60% of major rebel groups in Syria are Islamic extremists, and many would be content with an Islamist political settlement to the war.

From a legal perspective the foreign policy of the Trump administration on Syria represents a stark contrast to that of former president Barrack Obama, characterized by attacks on non government targets. However President Trump also failed to obtain, or even seek, Congressional approval to declare war against Syria. Under Article I of the U.S Constitution declaring war is a power solely grated to Congress.

However, Trump did not attempt to officially declare war on the Syrian government, and similarly to President Bush in his invasion of Kuwait, could attempt to argue that his attack on Syria was in defense of a United Nations Resolution. Concurrently, while the legal requirement of President’s to obtain approval from Congress for unilateral military action is in many cases not clearly defined, bipartisan urging for Congressional approval has reached a level of traction in the Senate. A majority of Democrats have proposed President Trump should obtain Congressional approval, and Republicans including Rand Paul have fallen in agreement, namely to the end of presenting clear limits on the president’s authority to enter into and fund any given military conflict.