Trump’s strikes against Assad airbase in Syria has come as an utter surprise and shock as it was first direct military action Washington has taken against Syrian government forces in the six-year-old conflict. The Trump administration had been giving out the impression it was critical of US’ conventional policy of regime-change and military interventions in other countries.
The move met with mixed feelings. Some welcomed it and some renounced it given the outcomes such interventions generated in Libya and Iraq.
Saudi Arabia: “Courageous decision”
Saudi Arabia said Friday that it “fully backs” a US air strike on a Syrian government airbase in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.
“Saudi Arabia fully supports the US military operations against military targets in Syria, which were a response to the regime´s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians,” a foreign ministry official told the state SPA news agency.
The official said the regime had only itself to blame after “odious crimes it had committed for years against the Syrian people.”
He described US President Donald Trump as “courageous” for taking action when “the international community has failed to put a halt to the regime´s actions.”
Iran: “Strengthening terrorists”
Iran condemned the strike on the Syrian airbase, while Britain and Australia gave their support, with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull describing it as a “proportionate and calibrated response” to the use of chemical weapons.
As the only recent victim of mass use of chemical weapons (by Saddam in the 80's), Iran condemns use of all WMD by anyone against anyone.1/3
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 7, 2017
US aids Saddam's use of CW against Iran in 80's; then resorts to military force over bogus CW allegations: 1st in 2003 and now in Syria. 2/3
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 7, 2017
Not even two decades after 9/11, US military fighting on same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria. Time to stop hype and cover-ups. 3/3
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 7, 2017
“Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes… Such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria … and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region,” the Students News Agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.
United Kingdom: “Appropriate response”
Britain backed US missile strikes on a Syrian air base as an “appropriate response” to Bashar Assad regime’s “barbaric” chemical attack.
The UK Government has also offered its full support to US president Donald Trump’s targeted assault on the base, from where he said a devastating nerve agent strike on civilians was launched.
Former leader of the U.K. Independence Party, Nigel Farage, who is arguably Britain’s biggest Trump supporter, seemed to cast doubt on U.S. military intervention:
Many Trump voters will be worried about this military intervention. Where will it end?
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) April 7, 2017
Russia: “Violation of International law”
Russia, which has been bombing rebel-held areas in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015, condemned the strikes, saying Washington’s action would “inflict major damage on US-Russia ties”, according to Russian news agencies.
In its first public response to the attack, the Kremlin labelled the US move as “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.
“Washington’s step will inflict major damage on US-Russia ties,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson of Russian president Vladimir Putin, was quoted as saying.
Turkey: “Punishment for attacks against the civilian population”
Turkey, which hosts three million Syrian refugees, said it views the US missile strikes positively and called for the establishment of a no-fly zone, as well as safe zones, in Syria.
“What happened in Idlib on Tuesday proved again that the bloody Assad regime show complete disregard for the prospect of a political transition and efforts to enforce the ceasefire,” read a statement by presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
“The destruction of Sharyat airbase marks an important step to ensure that chemical and conventional attacks against the civilian population do not go unpunished.”
Protesters in Ankara have been carrying symbolic coffins with pictures of the victims of the alleged chemical weapons attack and signs with the text “killer Assad and killer Putin”. They demonstrated outside the Russian Embassy, shouting anti-Russia slogans.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports the “strong and clear message” sent by the US strikes. The Israeli military said it had been informed in advance of the attack.
“In both word and action, President (Donald) Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.”Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of
“Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
European Council President Donald Tusk also supported the missile strikes.
“US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US. to end brutality in Syria,” Tusk wrote on his Twitter account.
Nato: “Syrian regime bears the full responsibility”
Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of defence alliance Nato, said in a statement: “The Syrian regime bears the full responsibility for this development.
“Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable.”
Austrailia: “proportionate and calibrated response”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also supported the move calling it a “proportionate and calibrated response”.
He also called on Russia to play its part in bringing peace to Syria.
Turnbull said the strikes sent “a vitally important message” that the world will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.
US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) April 7, 2017
“The retribution has been proportionate and it has been swift,” he told reporters in Sydney. “We support the United States in that swift action.”
Turnbull said the military action was not designed to overthrow the Assad regime, though the reported use of chemical weapons did “raise questions as to whether there can be any role for Mr. Assad in any solution or settlement”.
Japan: “Measure to maintain international order, peace and security”
The Japanese government has said it supports the US government’s determination to oppose the spread and use of chemical weapons.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “We understand the US government’s strikes this time are to prevent further deterioration of the situation.”
He said he valued the president’s “strong commitment” to “maintaining international order as well as peace and security with US alliances and the world”.
Indonesia: “not in line with international legal principles”
Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, said it also strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
“At the same time, Indonesia is concerned with unilateral actions by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, in responding to the chemical weapon attack tragedy in Syria,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir said in a text message.
“Military actions, undertaken without prior authorization of the UN Security Council, are not in line with international legal principles in the peaceful settlement of disputes, as stipulated in the UN Charter.”
France: “exactly what France had wanted”
Francois Hollande, the out-going French president, said the strikes were exactly what France had wanted after the 2013 chemical weapons attack at Ghouta that killed at least 280 people, but were scotched by a vacillating Barack Obama and a ‘no’ vote in the British parliament.
The joint statement by Mr Hollande and the German chancellor Angela Merkel said that “President Assad alone carries responsibility for these developments” with his “repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own people.”
Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen condemned the attack on Twitter.
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 7, 2017
Talking to France-2 television, she said she was “surprised” by Trump’s sudden attack of the airfield, warning that past U.S. interventions in Libya and Iraq led to rising extremism. She also said that Trump claimed that he did not want the U.S. to be “the world’s policeman, and that’s exactly what he did yesterday.”
Italy: “motivated response to a war crime”
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that the US strikes were a “motivated response to a war crime” that the Syrian regime was responsible for.
Mr Gentiloni added that he hoped the strike “should accelerate chances of political negotiations for a long lasting solution” to the Syrian crisis.
China: “urgent to avoid further deterioration of the situation”
“What is urgent now is to avoid further deterioration of the situation,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a regular press briefing.
“We oppose use of chemical weapons by any country, organisation or individual in any circumstance, for any purpose.”