Trump threatens Syria before allies are on board

“The president’s taunts took America’s closest allies by surprise Wednesday morning. The United States hasn’t even asked the United Kingdom for assistance in an attack.”

From The Daily Beast:

Donald Trump’s tweeted bluster that Russia should “get ready” for American missiles to hit Syria has outpaced a crucial U.S. ally’s current decisionmaking on military action against Damascus, The Daily Beast has learned.

Ever since Bashar Assad’s latest alleged chemical attack in Syria on Saturday, the U.S., France and Britain have scrambled to cobble together a concerted response. Russia, Assad’s patron, is taking a harsher stance against their anticipated strikes — substantially raising the prospect of a much larger conflagration between nuclear powers — which apparently prompted Trump to tap out a bellicose tweet telegraphing an imminent attack.

But that response in now ahead of where Trump’s allies are. A British diplomat familiar with the ongoing discussions on Syria told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that London had yet to decide on military action. That decision would come in response to a request from the U.K.’s allies. As of midday Wednesday, no such request had been made. The United States has not officially asked the United Kingdom for assistance in a Syria attack.

Trump’s Wednesday morning outburst on Twitter, a bit before 7:00 AM, came after reports that a senior Russian diplomat told a Hezbollah-run Lebanese TV station that Russia would blunt any U.S. strike on Syria. “The missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” said Alexander Zasypkin, Moscow’s ambassador to Lebanon, implying that Russia would attack U.S. Navy ships in the eastern Mediterranean, the likely source of cruise missile launches.

Zasypkin’s comments raised the stakes for a U.S. military strike of dubious legality to avenge the apparent chemical attack on the Douma suburb of Damascus. They came after Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution to investigate the Douma incident that left more than 70 people dead and 500 seemingly exposed to toxic chemicals.

And it was a signaled departure from the Russian response to the American military’s 2017 strikes on its ally in Damascus. Back then, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the cruise-missile attacks “a significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state,” but took no further action.

Yet Trump appeared to take the threatened missile interception as a dare. “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” he tweeted.

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