Trump does opposite to what Obama did, Russia must teach him how to act in Syria – ex-US diplomat
“The difficulty is that President Trump is inexperienced… His instinct is to do the opposite to whatever President Obama did,” Kiesling, who represented the US Foreign Service in Israel, Morocco, Greece and Armenia between 1983 and 2006, said.
“The goal here should be to teach President Trump. And here Russia needs to do more than it has done to explain how the international community can do what’s needed in Syria,” he added.
The former diplomat said President Vladimir Putin “obviously, has much more experience” than his US counterpart and that “Trump will have to learn the rules of the game.”
Kiesling is among a group of more than two dozen American intelligence veterans, who signed an open letter to Trump earlier this week. In the memorandum, which was released after the US missile strike on the Syrian Shayrat airbase, the authors warned the President against further escalating tensions with Russia over Syria, which could well lead to a nuclear conflict.
The bombardment of Syria was Washington’s response to an alleged chemical attack in the country’s Idlib province on April 4 that the West blamed on Syrian President Bashar Assad without any investigation been carried out.
The intelligence veterans are “expecting Donald trump to use the mechanisms that already exist to get to the bottom of what happened in Idlib – that’s the UN system, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has been effective in Syria in the past. We need them on the ground, conducting a serious investigation,” Kiesling said, adding that unilateral steps, outside the UN framework, must be avoided.
The former diplomat acknowledged that Washington “doesn’t have the necessary confidence in the UN” at the moment, saying that this situation needs to change.
“Restoring confidence in the UN means all of the permanent five members (of the UN Security Council), working very closely together, sending their best people, doing research that lets the chips fall where they may. If it was President Assad responsible for the gas attack – the UN should say so. If it was someone else – the UN should say so. We need absolute confidence that the process isn’t being tampered with,” he explained.
In his interview with RT, Kiesling set aside the possibility of US involvement in Syria turning into a full-scale invasion of the country like it happened in Iraq.
“The US doesn’t have the resources. There’s not a strategic goal that could be implemented by military means. The missile attack against the airfield was a symbolic blow,” he said.
The “huge, complicated” Syrian issue won’t be solved militarily,” the ex-diplomat said, adding that “it’s time to sit down, force the process into traditional diplomatic channels, which are slow – agonizingly slow – but, at least, we minimize the bloodshed while the process is going on.”
“The international community can succeed in imposing a little bit of peace and order on the planet if Russia, the US and China work together. If they’re sabotaging each other for domestic political reasons than the whole world becomes more dangerous. I’m not going to point fingers,” Kiesling added.
In their memorandum, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) group – comprised of former specialists from the US military, NSA, CIA, FBI, State Department and other agencies – warned that the threat of conflict with Russia increased after the Shayrat strike.
The authors of the letter said their “US Army contacts in the area” said “there was no Syrian ‘chemical weapons attack'" in Idlib on April 4.
“Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died,” the open letter said.
Such account of the Idlib events backs what Russia’s Defense Ministry and Damascus have been saying after reports of the alleged chemical attack emerged.
The experts expressed belief that it is “of transcendent importance” for the US to prevent further deterioration of relations with Moscow.
“It is time to deal with Russia on the basis of facts, not allegations based largely on dubious evidence – from ‘social media,’ for example,” the open letter said, urging Trump’s administration to “begin arrangements for an early summit with President Putin.”