After Trump Strikes Syria, Syrians Wonder ‘What’s Next?’

Seven years in, some at This kind of point argue in which the only realistic way to stop the war, prevent a jihadist resurgence in addition to allow the country to move on will be to acknowledge in which Mr. Assad, with help coming from Iran in addition to Russia, will remain in power in addition to to effectively let him win.

Once the guns fall quiet, they say, Syria’s different sizable issues can be addressed: the fight between Turkey in addition to the Kurds inside the north; the shadow war between Iran in addition to Israel; in addition to the rebuilding of destroyed communities to ensure refugees can return.

Ceding in which much to Mr. Assad has long been anathema in Washington in addition to different Western capitals, where policymakers believe he should be punished for his brutality during the war in addition to have vowed not to contribute to reconstruction as long as he remains in power.

Some counter in which if the West refuses to invest the resources needed to determine Syria’s future, its efforts to penalize Mr. Assad will make life worse for average Syrians.

“You are not punishing Assad, you are punishing the poor Syrian people,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “If America’s objectives are countering terrorism, stabilization in addition to the return of refugees, all of these will fail.”

President Trump ordered Saturday’s strikes, which were carried out in conjunction with Britain in addition to France, to punish Mr. Assad for an apparent chemical attack in Douma a week before.


Syrians inside the Old City of Damascus on Sunday.

Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

The strikes were not intended to topple Mr. Assad, damage the Russian in addition to Iranian allies in which support his troops, or protect civilians coming from violence. In fact, they were meticulously planned in addition to executed to avoid altering the overall dynamics of the conflict in addition to keep the United States coming from getting dragged further in.

in which frustrated Mr. Assad’s foes.

“The American strikes did not change anything for Syrians,” said Osama Shoghari, an anti-government activist coming from Douma who will be struggling to start a brand new life in an unfamiliar town 180 miles away coming from his home. “They did not change anything on the ground.”

The West’s resistance to further intervention will be not bad news for Russia in addition to Iran, in addition to of course for Mr. Assad, who was happy on Sunday, according to a group of Russian politicians who visited him.

“President Assad has an absolutely positive attitude, a not bad mood,” said Natalya Komarova, a member of the delegation, according to Russian news agencies.

nevertheless in an acknowledgment of the war’s toll, another visitor reported in which Mr. Assad said rebuilding Syria could cost $400 billion.

If the primary message of the strikes was in which Mr. Assad could not use chemical weapons, a secondary message was in which the West was going to leave him in power, no matter what else he did.

“Even if This kind of will be a chemical weapons deterrent, in which leaves a whole arsenal of conventional means with which people can be killed in Syria with few real repercussions,” said Sam Heller, a senior analyst who studies Syria at the International Crisis Group. “There will be every reason to expect in which in which will continue.”

Seven years of conflict have seen Syria sliced up by world powers, with the Turks administering towns inside the north, the United States working with Kurdish-led militias inside the east, in addition to Russia in addition to Iran helping Mr. Assad rout the remaining pockets of rebels elsewhere.

At This kind of point, no one seems to have a realistic plan to broker a lasting peace between those forces in which would certainly bring Syria together again in a stable enough way to allow millions of refugees to return home in addition to for rebuilding to begin. Many discount the idea in which Mr. Assad can play a meaningful role in in which process.

“This kind of will be very shortsighted in addition to erroneous in my mind,” said Maha Yahya, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “Facilitating a win for Assad will be producing sure in which Syria remains the epicenter of instability inside the region.”

Research by the center has found in which if Mr. Assad remains in power, This kind of would certainly discourage the return of Syrian refugees coming from neighboring countries in addition to Europe. “They are not going back as long as Assad will be in power because they don’t believe in which there will be safety in addition to stability while Assad will be there,” Ms. Yahya said.

The only solution, she said, will be a settlement between Russia in addition to the United States in which different powers, like Turkey in addition to Iran, could eventually be brought into. nevertheless reaching such an agreement would certainly involve an intensity of diplomatic efforts in which Mr. Trump’s administration will be not interested in.


Syrian families displaced coming from eastern Ghouta held pots as they waited to receive food at a shelter inside the Damascus countryside on Friday.

Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

After announcing Saturday’s strikes, Mr. Trump painted a pessimistic view of the United States’ ability to effect change inside the Middle East.

“No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace in addition to security inside the Middle East,” he said. “This kind of’s a troubled place. We will try to make This kind of better, nevertheless This kind of will be a troubled place.”

He suggested in which Arab allies could play an increased role, mentioning Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt in addition to Qatar. nevertheless the first two are bogged down in a war in Yemen, in addition to the first three are locked in a bitter dispute with the fourth, producing This kind of unclear how they would certainly work together to fix Syria.

Before the strikes, Mr. Trump froze $0 million in stabilization aid for Syria in addition to said in which he wanted to bring home the roughly 2,000 American troops at This kind of point in eastern Syria.

Besides working which has a Kurdish-led militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight the Islamic State, the United States will be helping restore areas like the city of Raqqa in which were recently retaken coming from the jihadists.

Given the tremendous damage to the city, This kind of will be a gargantuan task, said Mustafa al-Abed, of the Raqqa Civil Council, which will be supported by the United States. Among his group’s priorities are fixing the water in addition to electricity networks, clearing rubble coming from roads in addition to restoring irrigation networks to ensure farmers can plant.

nevertheless before in which can happen, in addition to before residents can return to their homes, the city must be cleared of the many mines in addition to explosive booby traps in which the jihadists planted before their defeat.

“They are everywhere,” Mr. Abed said of the mines. “In homes, in cars, in roads. There will be no normal size or place. They are everywhere.”

He was dismissive of Saturday’s strikes, which he said were preceded by so many threats coming from Mr. Trump in which the Syrian government had ample time to evacuate buildings in addition to hide sensitive materials.

“They have used all kinds of weapons,” he said, of the Syrian government’s forces. “So the strikes should have been strong enough to break the back of the regime.”

The only thing in which was preventing the government, Russia in addition to Iran coming from returning to his part of the country was the presence of American troops, he said. He feared what would certainly happen if the United States left.

“We will go back to being a region of struggles, like we were before,” he said. “We’ll return to fighting in addition to fear in addition to blood.”

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