Wars and Military Conflicts

Trump’s attack on Syria rushed and influenced by emotional swings, former Italian PM says

Reporting by Willem Marx; writing by Spriha Srivastava

U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to launch airstrikes on Syria seems rushed and influenced by emotional swings, according to the former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

In an interview with CNBC Friday, Letta said Trump reacted without correct preparation, allies or relationship with international organizations.

"It seems to be a little bit rushed and we have to know what will be the consequences and what will be the next steps. Is it tit for tat? Is it a one off? Maybe it is too early to say," Letta said.
Letta further added that the move seems to be a very unilateral initiative and is another example of this new "zigzag foreign policy" that Trump is starting to apply.

"In the first two months of his Presidency we were there seeing and watching changes in each week with a different angle and a different point of view. So in the last few days, my feeling is that the decision was influenced, the emotional swings were very important to influence the decisions, pictures and so on."

Italy's former prime minister, Enrico Letta
Filippo Monteforte | AFP | Getty Images

The United States launched a missile attack on a Syrian-government controlled airfield near the city of Homs. Two US warships in the Eastern Mediterranean fired 59 tomahawk missiles at the target. Speaking in Mar-a-lago, President Trump said the strike was made in response to the Assad government's use of chemical weapons earlier in the week.

The Syrian Army has said that 6 people have been killed.

The Kremlin says the strikes deal a significant blow to Russian-U.S. relations, calling them an aggression against a sovereign state which violates international law. It added that the move will do significant damage to U.S. Russia ties and will deal a serious obstacle to an attempt to create an international coalition to fight terrorism.

A Pentagon spokesman said the attack represented a "proportional response", and was intended to stop the regime from using chemical weapons in the future.

The Pentagon confirmed the US military gave Russia advance notice of the strike and did not target specific sections of the airfield where Russian forces were believed to be present

Speaking to reporters after the strike, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Russia has failed to uphold its responsibility to locate and secure Syria's chemical weapons, as agreed upon in a 2013 resolution.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes a statement about the visit of China's President Xi Jinping and about the situation in Syria, at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017.
Joe Skipper | Reuters

Letta told CNBC that Syrian President Bashar al- Assad was guilty in this situation. "What happened with the gas attacks was terrible and the unique guilty is Assad. But I repeat, to have a foreign policy military policy you need to have a comprehensive strategy and not to have a zigzag foreign policy that worries me."

Letta further explained that is important for other world leaders, especially in Europe, to help in shaping Trump's foreign policy in order to strengthen the Transatlantic Alliance.

"We cannot eliminate this tie that is the most important tie in terms of global security so I hope the meeting in May in Sicily will be an important push for strengthening the Transatlantic Alliance," Letta said.

He however warned that the meeting depends on Trump because of his stance on the alliance.

"Europeans are ready to strengthen the alliance and to have a comprehensive approach to global security and strategy. I hope European leaders help in shaping Trump's foreign policy because we need to strengthen the Transatlantic Alliance."

Letta also said that Europe needs to grow up in terms of being strong in security and defense related measures.

"I think it is the next mission for the European leaders and the European Union as a whole to be an adult on issues such as security and defense on a global stage. It is an important topic also in the French and German elections and the reaction of the next French and German leaders will for Europe on security. "

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