Washington. Secretary Rex Tillerson on the eve of his first diplomatic visit to Moscow has taken a tough stance against Russia. He said that Moscow was “incompetent” in allowing Syria to maintain stockpiles of chemical weapons, and accused Russia of trying to influence the elections in Europe using the same methods as in the United States.
These statements Tillerson made during a televised interview. His statements about the Russian state were much more critical of the public statements of President trump, who with his arguments in favor of improving relations with Russia is increasingly alone. The impression that this coincides with the expectations Tillerson, which he informally told his aides and members of Congress. According to him, relations of mistrust, friction and mutual attempts to undermine each other for a turn into the norm.
“It was inevitable,’ said Philip Gordon (Philip H. Gordon), who previously held the position of coordinator of the national security Council on the Middle East, and now working at the Council on foreign relations (Council on Foreign Relations). — Early initiatives trump aimed at the development of friendly relations, was incompatible with our interests, and everybody knew that it will end in tears”. Russia’s behavior has not changed, added Gordon, noting that the Russians “are using all kinds of means to penetrate the middle East and to Europe, cyber attacks, economic schemes, intimidation”.
Tillerson made it clear that he agreed with this point of view, despite repeated statements by trump and the conclusions of U.S. intelligence about the absence of evidence of Russian interference in last year’s elections. This intervention, said Tillerson in the program AVS This Week, “diminishes the prospects for improved relations not only in the US; obviously, they use the same tactics of interference in electoral processes throughout Europe”.
Because of these harsh statements Tillerson will be extremely difficult to carry out their tasks when it arrives on Tuesday in Moscow as senior leaders of the administration trump. During the meetings with the Minister of foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and with President Vladimir Putin, if held (it is unclear whether these meetings are organized and scheduled), he must make a strong caution; but he also needs to find a way to move forward together in the fight against “Islamic state” (banned in Russia organization — approx. lane), and then to decide on the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
However, when Tillerson before the trip to Moscow came to Italy for a meeting with the Ministers of foreign Affairs, the administration filed a series of conflicting signals about its policy towards Syria and about the extent to which it considers responsible for the continuing violence, the patron Saint of Damascus, Russia.
Tillerson and the new national security adviser, Lieutenant-General Herbert McMaster (McMaster Herbert), speaking on the program Fox News Sunday, said that struck last week on the Syrian air base of the American attack was intended solely to prevent a chemical attack in the future, but not to destabilize and overthrow the Assad government.
“In this shot, it’s not what it is intended to deprive the Syrian regime is the ability to commit mass murder of their own people, the General said McMaster, a rookie on this Sunday’s telecast. Is a very powerful signal to Assad and his sponsors that the United States can not stand idly by as he kills innocent civilians.”
Neither Tillerson nor McMaster don’t want to take further military action in Syria, even if Assad will continue to kill civilians with conventional weapons, not chemical, which forced trump to change his point of view on the intervention. Tillerson stressed that the main priority remains the defeat of the “Islamic state”. Only after that, said Secretary of state, he will be engaged in the process and the ceasefire, which should lead to elections that “the Syrian people can decide Assad’s fate”.
However, the American representative to the UN, Nikki Haley said that while Assad is in power, this process has no chance. “We know that there are no options for a political settlement will not be until the head of the regime is Assad, said Haley, speaking on CNN. — If you look at his actions if you look at the situation, it is difficult to understand how this state when Assad could be peaceful and stable.”
This statement sharply contradicts not only the statements Tillerson, but the remarks that Hayley did just a week ago, prior to the implementation of Assad chemical attack against the civilian population. Then she said that Assad’s departure from office is not a diplomatic priority for the United States.
However, the General atmosphere of suspicion and condemnation of Russia for its actions in Syria indicates that the main trump’s advisers on national security are pushing him to adopt more traditional policies towards Russia. When Tillerson was the head of Exxon Mobil, Putin awarded him the order of Friendship, and he understands that this fact and its relationship with Russia cause a strong suspicion. Therefore, the current Secretary of state most active in the American administration is trying to distance itself from the Russian leader.
In the last days of became more trouble. Russians got angry because of the attack on the airbase, threatened to turn off the communication line on which the Russian and American military had notified each other of their air missions in Syria. This attack forced Putin closer to Assad, although it may be contrary to his wishes.
Hayley, who like Tillerson, is a novice in diplomacy, apparently concluded that a hard line against Russia is the safest course. The striking contrast between her speech and warm words trump about Putin said during the election campaign, and his refusal to accept Russian interference in the presidential elections of 2016.
It is very difficult to understand what policy towards Syria by the administration trump. Tillerson during his first TV appearance after coming on as Secretary of state called two different strategic objectives: to stop a chemical attack and to hold talks on the ceasefire. However, he made it clear that he would not support military intervention to overthrow Assad. This suggests that while a dictator uses to kill their own people conventional means, say barrel bombs, not sarin gas, the United States will stay out of the way.
“I think the United States and our allies want to give the opportunity to the Syrian people to decide” about the fate of Assad, said Tillerson, speaking at the transfer of CBS Face the Nation. The same thing is very often said his predecessor from the Obama administration, John Kerry. “You know, we’ve all seen what happens in forcible regime change, say, in Libya, and what the result may be chaos,” he said.
These statements indicate that trump, while there is no General strategy on Syria. Experienced experts on the Middle East say that this is a good thing.
“I, for one, am glad that he doesn’t have a well thought out strategy on Syria, as if it were, trump would wrong to understand correctly and to implement,” said one of the most experienced us diplomats and experts on the middle East region, Ryan Crocker (Ryan C. Crocker), working as the Dean of the faculty of public administration and public service with the name Bush in the Texas agricultural University.
“Too many variables, too many unknowns,” said he. Among them, the reliance of American allies, including Saudi Arabia, that trump would prefer not defeat the “Islamic state”, and getting rid of Assad.
This article was prepared with the participation of Wayland Noah (Noah Weiland) and Somini Sengupta (Somini Sengupta).