2018年12月11日星期二
 
專家論市
Martin Hennecke

Air strikes add fuel to fire
 
16/04/2018
 
The US and China have been headed for a full-scale trade war,with both countries slapping import tariffs on each other, and the battle has gripped the attention of the world.

However, there was one other significant event last week that went by largely unnoticed. President Donld Trump announced on Twitter that he might reconsider withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a key trade pact advanced by former US President Barack Obama.

The possibility of the United States returning to the table for the TPP is good news, but it did not generate much interest simply because everybody is more worried about how much change Trump's foreign policy will bring to the world.

Meanwhile, after China made a concession in the trade spat by offering to significantly lower tariffs on imported American cars and further open markets to foreign investment, Trump has now turned his sights on Russia.

Over the weekend, the United States joined hands with Britain and France and launched air strikes on Syria.

While the three countries justified the strikes saying that the Syrian government was suspected of using biochemical weapons to attack civilians, it would appear that the real target is Russia, as it supports Syria's government.

To understand Syria's civil war, one must first learn a bit about Syria's recent history. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's family belongs to a Shi'ite tribe called the Alawites. Though they number just 12 percent of the country's population, this sect has long held control of the country's military and intelligence services.In 1963 the Baath Party staged a military coup, following which Assad's family staged a coup in 1970 and went on to rule the country until now.

Assad's authoritarian rule gave rise to various factions within the opposition and eventually led to a bloody civil war.

Syria's opposition has won support from the US and other European countries. However, Assad has the backing of Russia and Iran.

All this makes Syria's problems more complex.

Worryingly, the air strikes could lead to retaliatory action by Russia and escalate the Syrian crisis into a war between the United States and Russia - and I will reveal my reasons for this prediction next week.

Andrew Wong Wai-hong is an independent commentator

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