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'Insane if US starts striking Syria without working with the Assad regime'

Published time: August 27, 2014 11:37
Boys ride a bicycle past other civilians near damaged buildings in the Damascus suburb of Harasta August 24, 2014. (Reuters/Badra Mamet)

People around President Obama, his ambassadors, politicians, the State Department, are saying they are unwilling to work with Syria, and obviously prepping the ground for airstrikes, journalist and foreign policy analyst Michael Hughes told RT.

RT: Technically the US and Syrian army are on the same side here fighting the Islamic State group. Could this common threat kick-start new relations between Washington and Damascus?

Michael Hughes: You would hope so, de-facto they are on the same side and it is kind of ridiculous. Obama's top military advisors meet two points: number one, we need to get them at their source which is in Syria, number two, air power alone can do so much. Eventually you need boots on the ground, and I draw the analogy to Afghanistan. The whole time the head of the Taliban [was in Pakistan]; we could not have boots on the ground there, now Pakistan has a nuclear weapon so we are prevented from doing that. But in Syria we have surveillance flights going over and all this means that they are probably establishing a plan to strike a country which will be a big mistake. Ideally, if they are smart, the military advisers should propose a unified command – US, Syria, bringing in Russia, as Russia can help a lot, the UK, Saudi Arabia could help with the intelligence – so if they were smart, that is what they would do. But the US politics gets in the way domestically and we have an entire sad stance from the beginning. I just remember Hilary [Clinton] “He has got to go”, and we stuck to that line, and then Obama with these red lines. So politically it will be shooting themselves in the foot domestically.

RT: Right now Washington is only spying on Islamic State fighters in Syria. What could this operation result in? What if the US decides to bomb Syria without warning Damascus?

MH: Then there could be a clash between Syria and the US. It would be seen pretty insane to me if the US starts striking Syria without working with the Assad regime. That seems extremely bold, especially when you have someone who wants to be a partner with you in order to do that. I am nervous about the voices out of Washington: people around Obama, his ambassadors, the politicians, the State Department officers that are saying they are unwilling to work with Syria. That is scary. But typically the way they are going about it, they are prepping the ground for airstrikes and I think that is obvious.

RT: The Islamic State is said to be brainwashing children in captured areas on a massive scale. Could these kids become a sort of jihadist time bomb? Can we see it getting out of proportion for all sides?

MH: This has been going for a while in Syria. De facto the US should have always been on Syria's side, because the revolt against Assad regime was radicalized within a month or two. And you have kids on the ground, some of them were secular, but these children, they need a cause to rally around. Jihadism is a nice narrative for them, with their backs against the wall they reach out. These mullahs and these extremists are providing them with a narrative, with a story, providing them something to live for; they are susceptible for this message. It is very scary. The US should see this and be warned to prevent the caliphate. That should be a priority one should think because of this brainwashing starting from the bottom up.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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