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Now Trump has blood on his hands

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POINT OF VIEW : A girl holds a sign that reads "We are Syria, Trump killer" during a protest against the US military strike against Syria, in front of the US Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia, Reuters/UNI

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The friendship with Putin is over for now as the US president makes a policy turnaround and bombs Syria, post the deadly chemical attack there by the Assad government

By Sujit Bhar

Those were the days when former US President, Peace Nobel Laureate Barack Obama, so badly wanted to bomb the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. He thought it would be a cool idea to help the ‘rebels’, who were sometimes closing in on and sometimes being bombed by Assad’s forces, by providing strategic air support. Of course, he never thought about boots on the ground.

He sent the planes soaring, and it was then that somebody drove a different type of sense into him: The banned militant group of Muslim Brotherhood had mingled with the rebels and was aiming to drive up Assad’s lawn. Helping the ‘rebels’ would also mean helping this banned group of extremists, giving rise to more problems for the Middle East, the US and for the world.

The fighter jets were ordered back.

Then, shocking the world, Donald Trump assumed the presidency of the US. A known Vladimir Putin admirer and Russia backer, Trump had courageously set his eyes away from Syria. “See no evil,” he said.

But good times never last. Assad had to go and use the deadly Sarin gas on his people, killing at least 85 in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. Trump, of course, is educated on the evils of chemical weapons, and how even the children—at least two dozen of them—had to suffer immensely, till their bodies were paralysed and their diaphragms collapsed before they died. It was too much, even for Trump.

DASTARDLY ACT: Men gather near bodies, after a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria, by government forces

DASTARDLY ACT: Men gather near bodies, after a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria, by government forces

 

Sarin is a banned chemical agent and the world’s Sarin stores are being destroyed. Except Assad’s.

In a matter of 24 hours, Trump had made a 180-degree turn and ordered a missile strike against Assad. US destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross, stationed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, fired 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, wreaking havoc within the Assad administration. That possibly indicated the end of the US’s hands-off policy in the region.

The Pentagon has reportedly said that the missiles targeted “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars” located at the al-Shayrat airbase in Syria. This was the first time since 2011, when the Syrian civil war began, has the US taken direct action.

The problem with firing missiles into any populated region is that it also delivers collateral damage, one reason why the US had the hands-off policy in the first place. Now a Syrian news agency reports that nine civilians, including four children, were killed in the strike. There is nobody to verify if those people were actually in the vicinity of al-Shayrat airbase during the strike. But bad news, even if it is fake, does travel fast.

US intelligence, according to reports, had believed that the al-Shayrat airbase was used to launch the chemical attacks. And Trump’s official response did little to dispel doubts of local tragedy. His statement, issued from his Mar-a-Lago holiday estate, said: “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread of chemical weapons.”

That didn’t seem concomitant with general US foreign policy of “protecting” the weak around the world. While it was nearer Trump’s stated position of “protecting the interests of America”, what American interest in a distant airfield these strikes were protecting would be difficult to explain.

So why is Trump scared of assuming a position of strength, in admitting America’s “tradition” of spreading foreign policy throughout its administrations, including its defence and security establishments? Media reports points at his “narrow” thinking, which fails to realise a broader perspective and of greater good.

However, there could be another reason: Russia.

The Trump administration has been in jitters through its connections with Russia and America’s bogeyman Vladimir Putin, president of that Republic. Russia, Assad’s protector, has reacted angrily despite the Pentagon’s pre-strike information to Russia “using its established ‘deconfliction channel’”, as per reports in the media.

But Putin has come out and said the strike was “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law”. Tongue-in-cheek media reports have quoted Russian news agency Sputnik, which quoted Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying that the Russian president thinks this strike was under a “trumped-up pretext”.

Two things emerge. First, Trump has to stick to his stance on Assad. It is understandable that he can well turn around tomorrow and call Assad a good boy. But he has to strike a balance between what he does and what he says, as well as with how he wants to treat Putin.

Secondly – and this can go to Trump’s advantage – Putin may cry himself hoarse over bombing a sovereign nation, but he cannot, in civil society, condone the use of Sarin gas on innocent civilians, especially children. That jeopardises his position around the world.

Technically, while Trump would be on a diplomatic high from these attacks – Democrats would find it hard to find fault in this, especially when Obama failed to take any proactive stance and action on Assad—he could also be pressured from his early view of Putin.

The Cold War seems to have been revived, albeit through a back door.

According to a Pew Research Center report of January this year, when people were asked how much confidence they had in Putin to do the right thing in world affairs, the general trend in Western Europe was an upward one. France was up at 20 percent positive, UK at 20 and Germany and Italy both at 31. These figures have risen sharply since 2016.

On the other hand a March Gallup poll found that Trump’s job approval rating had slumped to 37 percent. It said that 58 percent of Americans didn’t like his presidency.

Not that such polls really make any difference to overall world geopolitics, but if Trump has to take the Congress’ green light for further spending on defence production (he wants a $ 30 billion raise), he will have to play a bit of the game by their rules. Executive orders may try and ban entry into the country (even that the courts have not agreed to), but they surely do not fetch funding from the treasury.

So Trump finally has blood on his hands, and when the Putin towel isn’t around to wipe it on, he will have to learn to live with it. Diplomacy at the top level can’t always be about pontificating from Trump Towers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Bear takes 400 selfies with a sensory camera in USA’s Colorado, Twitter user amused

According to reports, the OSMP authorities had installed nine cameras to cover and click images of the wildlife land which is situated and spread out across 46,000 acres.

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The notion of clicking selfies has transgressed and gone beyond species as an amusing story has come to light from USA’s Colorado’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) where a bear hijacked a sensory camera and took 400 selfies. According to reports, the officials of Space and Mountain parks in Colorado had installed a camera in order to shoot the wildlife activities.

It was reported that when the officials took out the snaps that the sensory camera had clicked, they learnt that 580 images were clicked and out of the 580 images, the 400 of the images were selfies taken by a bear.

According to reports, the OSMP authorities had installed nine cameras to cover and click images of the wildlife land which is situated and spread out across 46,000 acres. The sensory cameras work on motion sensing and when an animal steps in the frame, the camera automatically captures the pictures of the subject that is in front of it.

The cameras also have features of taking pictures at night by using infrared light which cause less disruption to the animals who can get irritated by the flash.

The Tweet shows the images of the bear posing from all angles as it, for a moment, seems to be a model that is accustomed to pose for pictures.

See Tweet here:

Twitter reactions

After the tweet showing the selfies of the bear surfaced, many users came forward to add their take on the incident as one user wrote and said this pose by the bear looks to be inspired from the film Lolita.

One user wrote and praised the posing skills of the bear as the user wrote and said that the bear looks good and could be a professional model. Another user also amusingly added and wrote that they used to be as handsome as the bear a while ago. The user also wrote and said that nature is the champ.

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US intervention prevented India-Pakistan nuclear war post 2019 Balakot strike: Mike Pompeo

A timely intervention by the Trump administration prevented a potential nuclear war between India and Pakistan after the 2019 airstrikes, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has claimed in his new book.

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former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo

A timely intervention by the Trump administration prevented a potential nuclear war between India and Pakistan after the 2019 airstrikes, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has claimed in his new book.

In his book, “Never Give an Inch”, a memoir of his time as a top diplomat in Donald Trump regime and earlier as the CIA chief, Pompeo writes that the world doesn’t properly know how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear war in February 2019.

The Indian Air Force on February 26, 2019 launched targeted airstrikes inside Pakistan targeting terrorist training camps of terror outfit of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

India’s response came after 41 CRPF men were killed in a suicide bombing in Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14, 2019.

India shot down an F-16 during an aerial combat in which an Indian warplane was shot down by Pakistan and the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured.

Pompeo, seen by many as a potential future presidential contender, reveals that he was in Hanoi for a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, when he woke up to an urgent call from a senior Indian official.

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The official told Pompeo that he believed that Pakistan was prepping their nuclear weapons for a strike and India was preparing its own response.

Pompeo says he told the official to give the US time to sort things out and eventually US diplomats managed to convince the arch rivals that neither of them was going for the nuclear option, thus deescalating the situation.

The former Trump diplomat in his book says he believes that Pakistan “probably enabled” the Kashmir attack. Pompeo says he spoke to the Pakistan’s “actual leader” then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, alluding to the weakness of civilian governments in the country.

Pompeo says that no other nation could have done what the US did that night to avoid “a horrible outcome.”

Pompeo had publicly defended India’s right to act during his stint as US secretary of state.

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India invites Pak foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto to SCO meet

India has reportedly invited Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial, to attend in the foreign ministers’ and chief justices’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

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Pak foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto

India has reportedly invited Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial, to attend in the foreign ministers’ and chief justices’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

As per reports, India, who was appointed to chair the regional grouping in September 2022, has sent the invitations to Bhutto and Bandial through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

The invites come as a surprise to many as bilateral ties between the two subcontinental neighbors are going through a rough patch in recent times.

India is set to host key ministerial meeting summit in Goa in the first week of May of the nine-member Asian grouping which also consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and its new member Iran, which will attend its first SCO meeting as a full member.

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The last meeting of the SCO was held in Samarkand in Uzbekistan.

Pakistan has yet to respond to the invite and if Bilawal Bhutto accepts, it will be the first such visit from a Pakistani foreign minister in nearly a decade since Hina Rabbani Khar paid a visit to India in 2011.

India-Pakistan ties have been at an all-time low since 2019 when the Centre abolished Article 370 which formerly bestowed special status upon the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Islamabad is seeking its restoration and considers the Kashmir issue, a burning point between the two nations.

Making matters worse, last month, Bilawal Bhutto sparked a row when he called PM Modi the “butcher of Gujarat”.

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