The gas attack and the hospital bombing that followed are part of an ethnic-cleansing effort designed to chase Sunni populations out and replace them with Shi'ite Arabs from Iraq.
Tehran wants to extend its reach to the Mediterranean by cultivating a belt of predominantly Shi'ite communities checkered by an assortment of subservient non-Sunni minorities.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Putin during their meeting in Moscow last month that the Iranians are out to build their own seaport in Syria.
The Iranian march to the Mediterranean provokes the Arab world, Russia and Turkey all at once. The Russians will not want the ayatollahs' vessels parking alongside theirs.
Backing Assad's violence is one thing. Accommodating Tehran's imperial intrusion is an entirely different thing.
Moreover, the Sunni Arabs along with the Sunni Turks understand what Iran is up to.
The U.S. Strike at Syria - Elliott Abrams
Explaining the U.S. airstrike in Syria, Secretary of State Tillerson said: "It's important that some action be taken on behalf of the international community to make clear that the use of chemical weapons continues to be a violation of international norms." This strike will save lives in Syria by preventing Assad from daring to use chemical weapons again, and in unknown future conflicts where the losing side will be tempted to employ chemical weapons, and will think twice and not do it.
The strike will have far wider effects. It was undertaken while Chinese President Xi was with Trump in Florida. Surely this will affect their conversations about North Korea. Vladimir Putin will realize that the years of U.S. passivity are truly over. Allies and friends will be cheered, while enemies will realize times have changed.
Henceforth, when the U.S. president speaks of American conditions and demands, interests and desires, more attention will be paid. When the president said it was in the "vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," he was right.
The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Trump Raises the Stakes for Russia and Iran - Dennis B. Ross
The U.S. response to the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian air force was clearly about sending messages to President Assad and his allies, as well as the international community: Chemical weapons will not be used with impunity. This American strike will also convey to the Iranians, and to the North Koreans, that they had better take the words of this administration seriously. America's regional allies, who had become convinced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the region, will also take the administration's words much more seriously.
Should Assad choose to test the U.S. by carrying out another chemical weapons attack, he runs the risk of losing more of his air force and the major advantage it gives him over the rebels.
The writer is counselor at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and served in senior positions in four U.S. administrations.
(New York Times)
Re-establishing the Power of Deterrence - Clifford D. May
If you're still unsure about whether President Trump did the right thing when he launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria's Shayrat air base last week, consider the alternative. He knew that Assad had again used chemical weapons to murder Syrian civilians. He knew that Iran and Russia had enabled this atrocity, as they have many others.
He knew he had two choices. He could shrug and instruct his UN ambassador to deliver a tearful speech calling on the "international community" to do something. Or he could demonstrate that the U.S. still has the power and the grit to stand up to tyrants and terrorists - thereby beginning to re-establish America's deterrent capability.
In the last century, most Americans recognized, in some cases with enormous reluctance, that there was no good alternative to doing whatever was necessary to rout the Nazis and Communists, whose goal was to kill off the democratic experiment.
In this century, jihadists and Islamists harbor the same ambition. We can attempt to appease them. We can try to make ourselves inoffensive to them. We can keep our hand extended, hoping that in time they will unclench their fists. Or we can decide instead to plan for a long war that will end with the defeat of these latest enemies of America and the rest of the civilized world.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The U.S. Strike in Syria: Global Message - Amos Yadlin & Assaf Orion
Syria basically enabled Trump to send a message to the more problematic countries that are preoccupying the U.S. government. The denouncements from Iran show that Tehran got the message. Above all, the U.S. attack constitutes a challenge to Russia, the power that is the Assad regime's protector and, to date, has expanded its influence in Syria and in the Middle East, largely due to the U.S.' lack of interest.
This single U.S. attack does not yet symbolize a change in policy. Trump and administration officials emphasized that at issue is a single strike whose purpose was to deter the Assad regime from launching any further chemical weapons attacks.
Israel is very much interested in Syria's chemical weapons disarmament, when it is clear now that this has not yet been completed; in maintenance and enforcement of the ban on the use of chemical weapons; and in the repercussions of these events as a precedent to Iran's compliance with the restrictions prescribed in the nuclear agreement, and the costs that Iran will pay when it violates the agreement.
It is important to reexamine the de facto acceptance of Assad's remaining in power in the longer term, as it facilitates the strengthening of Hizbullah and Iran in Syria, and their entrenchment constitutes a very grave threat that is too close to Israel.
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads Tel Aviv University's INSS. Brig.-Gen. Assaf Orion served as head of Strategic Planning in the Planning Directorate in the IDF General Staff (2010-2015).
(Institute for National Security Studies)
The World's Watchdog Is Back in Town - Ron Ben-Yishai
In its strike in Syria, the U.S. conveyed a message: We have red lines, and anyone who crosses them will experience the military force of the strongest power in the world. Another message is: You can't do as you please in the Middle East. Assad suffered considerable damage, as this is the base which is used for attacks against Islamic State targets in eastern Syria.
The operation is good news for Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey because the U.S. has made it clear that it views the use of non-conventional weapons as a red line, and that if such weapons are used, it will act as if the U.S. itself has been attacked. The U.S. is also warning the Iranians. If they thought they would be able to violate the nuclear agreement and get away with it like Assad, they will now think twice.