'US ‘saving lives’ in Syria: Kabuki dance in advance of Trump-Putin G20 meeting'

'US ‘saving lives’ in Syria: Kabuki dance in advance of Trump-Putin G20 meeting'
The American UN envoy’s statement about ‘saving lives in Syria’ means claiming credit for the non-occurrence of an event that is unlikely to have occurred - a repeat of an earlier event that didn’t happen either, says former US diplomat, Jim Jatras.

After the US accused the Syrian government of planning a chemical weapon attack and warned it would "pay a heavy price" for such a move, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said on Wednesday Washington's threat against Syria may have saved lives.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis echoed the idea telling reporters traveling with him for a meeting of NATO defense ministers: “It appears that they took the warning seriously. They didn't do it.”

However, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov questioned the US accusation that the Syrian government was planning a chemical attack at a meeting with Germany's foreign minister.

RT: Nikki Haley said the lives of "many innocent men, women, and children" may have been saved by Donald Trump's warning against Syria. Is that true, do you think?

Jim Jatras: It is pretty bizarre. Let’s remember that the threat from Spicer, he said that they did ‘another attack’ referring to the attack in Idlib in April. Remember, this came just after the publication, a very detailed article by Seymour M. Hersh essentially debunking that attack, showing that there was no attack by the Syrian government. Now we have Mattis and Ambassador Nikki Haley essentially claiming credit for the non-occurrence of an event that was unlikely to have occurred in the first place, itself supposedly a repeat of an earlier event that didn’t happen either. It is very strange. It makes you wonder if this was some kind of a big, what we call a Kabuki dance, a big show to make them look tough and effective maybe in advance of Trump’s meeting with Putin at the G20.

This is a charade – it is not funny, nor it is an entertaining one, but this charade has gone too far. They have managed to put themselves in a hole that they are now craving to get out of. It started with tweets and so-called leaks from the Pentagon or the White House saying Washington is concerned about a certain chemical attack that is about to happen. We are working with oracles; we are working with people who are imagining stuff, then believing them and propagating them as lies for the public to believe. - Marwa Osman, political commentator

RT: Does this show division behind the scenes?

JJ: I think they are trying to glass it over. They can’t really afford to backtrack and say “we were wrong about something.” But there was an interesting article in the American Conservative about how Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson have been spending a lot of time cleaning up Jared Kushner’s mess in the Middle East and maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe there are divisions within that this threat from Spicer, the White House was ill-advised, Mattis knew that it was ill-advised and they are trying to find some way to paper things over. It’s really hard to tell without knowing what the inside communications are.

RT: We are seeing accusations being made without any proof being provided. This seems to be a growing trend.

JJ: It is. And remember as we saw with Idlib, there was no proof presented... Remember, the counter-strike against the Shayrat airbase ordered by President Trump occurred within 72 hours of the supposed attack – no proof needed. And even after the fact, nobody ever wants to go back and say what really happened here.

RT: What do you think is the position at the moment for the so-called regime change?

JJ: I think the establishment here in Washington that has been very opposed to Trump in general, is still committed to regime change. I think they see that agenda falling apart and that is why they do things: you get things like, for example, shooting down of the Syrian Sukhoi, the Israeli strikes against Syrian forces near the Golan [Heights]. I think it is dawning on a lot of people that have been for six years trying to overthrow this government in Syria that that is not going to happen, that there are strategic consequences to that, and they don’t want to see those consequences and they are getting desperate.

'US playing to domestic audience, not Syrians'

Kamal Alam, military analyst, also commented on Nikki Haley's statement:

"It is quite plausible the Americans were serious about this, but it seems very contradictory because they said that there was evidence and the Syrians backed off. I think there is a lot of domestic audiences the Americans are playing to rather than the Syrians. There is a lot of friction between the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department to what to do with Syria."

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.