‘It’s tragic US continues series of experiments in Syria’ - ex-UN Assistant Sec-Gen

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend the opening ceremony for Hannover Messe in Hanover, Germany April 24, 2016. © Kevin Lamarque
Barack Obama wants to leave a legacy that shows some sign of a successful presidency. However he continues to experiment in Syria, which may hamper the Geneva peace talks, says Hans-Christof Von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary-General.

President Obama has announced the biggest escalation of American intervention in Syria to date with a further 250 troops, on top of dozens who are already on the ground.

"Given the success, I've approved the deployment of up to 250 additional US personnel in Syria, including special forces to keep up this momentum," the US President said in a speech at a trade fair in Hanover, Germany.  "They're not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces as they continue to drive ISIL back," he said.

RT: Mr. Sponeck, President Obama is now sending hundreds of American troops to help what he called “local forces” in Syria. That's a big vague, isn't? What sort of forces does he mean?

Hans-Christof Von Sponek: I’m probably speculating here, but I would say he refers to the moderate fundamentalists, with whom the US has tried to cooperate - not very successfully, I must say. But the main point one should make here is: at the time when one tries to have a restart of the Geneva peace talks under the leadership of Staffan de Mistura, the UN official, it is tragic that we continue these series of experiments in Iraq, but mainly in Syria right now with the end result that the talks will not move well in Geneva and the peace will be further removed from the country called Syria.

RT: Taking into the account all the negative sides, why is he doing that?

H-CVS: He is entering his last six months and he wants to leave a legacy that shows some sign of success. And the Americans are never short of experiment, never short of trying something new… It is jumping from one laboratory test to another, and in the meantime the country continues to go further towards a destroyed nation.

RT: Obama says he respects European privacy. Has he forgotten how the NSA reportedly tapped Angela Merkel's phone for years?

H-CVS: I want to tell you, maybe there’s a wonderful political amnesia, but that amnesia doesn’t apply to normal Central European citizens. Do you really think we have forgotten the NSA affair? Do you really think we haven’t followed the WikiLeaks revelations? It is all in the heads, what it does to us is [deepening] the distrust...

RT: We heard Obama also mention so-called “Russian aggression” as a threat to Europe. Are Europeans buying that and do you expect the EU to extend its sanctions against Russia with rhetoric like that?

H-CVS: You know very well that there is an increasingly deep gap between the political message coming out of Europe from Parliaments and what the public feels. This is why you see more and more people now taking time and also contributing financially to try to put some sanity back into the debate. The TTIP is only one example, where Central Europeans, Germans in particular are very, very uncomfortable with the leadership that they see coming out of Berlin.

RT: We saw so many people are against TTIP, because it all is sorted out behind closed doors. Why is Obama pushing it so strongly?

H-CVS: If you run into trouble you cover up. For the last three years now the Americans and the Europeans have tried to sort out, whether they want to be pro-TTIP, or not. This isn’t an easy birth, and he wants to make sure that the child is born before he leaves the office.

RT: What do you think of it: good or bad thing?

H-CVS: Free trade, if it is free trade, it is not a bad thing, but it must be an even playing field. If you don’t do that, if you have behind the curtain all kinds of things which favor you, but not the other side then you run into problems, and the public has discovered that. We do not want to lower our standards, we do not want to endanger an already fragile environment, and we certainly don’t want to be party to court cases, where an enterprise can take a government here in Central Europe to task for having changed, whatever it has decided to change. So it is transparency that could make a difference…

‘Treacherous move’

Political analyst John Wight describes Washington’s decision to deploy extra troops to Syria as “a very serious move which is designed to undermine the sovereignty of the Syrian government.” 

The Syrian government “has been involved in the unremitting conflict for five years at huge cost to its people,” he told RT. “It’s an insult and a treacherous move” on the US, which “created the conditions for this conflict and for its continuance,” Wight added.  

“The important thing to be stated here is that unless the deployment of these troops is being done with the clear cooperation and consent of the sovereign Syrian government in Damascus, then this is tantamount to the invasion of Syria by American troops. This is a violation of their territory and it should be treated in this regard,” he said.

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