Egypt MPs slam US President Donald Trump's 'irresponsible' attack on Syria

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 8 Apr 2017

US airstrikes on Syria Thursday have led to a strong backlash in Egypt's parliament, with MPs criticising Arab division, the Arab League, and the Trump administration

File photo of Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian MPs condemned early Friday a US missile attack against a Syrian airbase. They also complained that the Arab League responded passively to what they called an act of aggression against Syria.

On Saturday, Arab League chief Ahmed Abu Gheit warned against a "dangerous escalation" in Syria after a US missile strike on a Syrian airbase following the alleged use by forces of the regime of Bashar Al-Assad of chemical weapons in an attack Tuesday.

"The Arab League rejects regional and international powers' attempts to politick over the corpses of Syrians or at the cost of its sovereignty," he told reporters.

"Therefore we demand that all should retreat from this dangerous escalation we are monitoring," said the secretary general of the 22-member Arab bloc headquartered in Cairo.

Ahmed Said, head of parliament's foreign affairs committee, described the US airstrike as a flagrant military attack against a sovereign Arab state that is a member of the Arab League, an organisation entrusted to defend Arab interests.

"The Arab League's reaction has been very passive and it is not clear whether it supports or condemns a direct military attack against an Arab nation," said Said.

Directing a statement to Abul-Gheit, Said wondered, "Has the Arab League become so passive that it has even become unable to issue an immediate comment on a military attack against an Arab nation?"

Said also said: "If the Arab League has become incapable of defending the interests of Arab states, then when will it play this basic role?"

Said also criticised the US airstrike on Syria, describing it as an "irresponsible act."

"Instead of rallying a political solution for the bloody civil war in Syria, the administration of US President Donald Trump chose to resort to a direct military attack that will remind millions of Arabs of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 – an invasion that led to the proliferation of terrorists and terrorist acts in the Middle East," said Said.

According to Said, the Trump administration used the same double-standards and lies that former US presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama had used to strike Iraq and Libya.

"And what was the result ... civil wars and terrorists gaining greater ground in the Middle East," stated Said, adding: "All US presidents used similar false slogans on human rights and democracy to justify their attacks against Arab nations and help militant jihadists take control of several Arab lands."

Saad El-Gammal, head of parliament's Arab affairs committee, said: "The US airstrike represents a dangerous escalation in Syria's civil war."

"US President Donald Trump vowed that he would obliterate Daesh (the Islamic State group) – or ISIS – but what he did this week was the opposite. I mean that the US airstrike helps serve Daesh and other terrorist organisations operating in Syria," said El-Gammal.

Joining forces with Said, El-Gammal added: "In the same way they levelled trumped-up charges against Saddam Hussein on chemical weapons in 2003, the Americans now use the same false charges to justify their attacks on Syria."

Dahlia Youssef, a Coptic female MP and head of the Egyptian-British Parliamentary Friendship Association, also described the American airstrike on Syria as "reflecting reckless and irresponsible behaviour on the part of the administration of US President Donald Trump."

"Instead of pressuring for a thorough investigation into whether the Assad regime had used chemical weapons, the administration of Donald Trump opted to resort to the hasty and unilateral decision of launching a missile attack on Syria," said Youssef.

Youssef added: "All should condemn the use of chemical weapons in wars, but before we direct accusations, there should be a thorough investigation into who used these weapons."

"If the Bashar Al-Assad regime was found guilty of using chemical weapons, then I am sure that all Arab peoples would support a military strike against this regime," said Youssef, adding: "But the Trump administration decided to take international law into its hands instead of waiting for a thorough investigation into the incident."

The American mainstream media claimed Saturday that it was the gruesome images of a chemical weapons attack on Syria civilians that moved Trump to authorise the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian targets Thursday night.

But Egyptian MPs believe that it was Trump's wish to show that he is a tougher and stronger leader than his predecessor Barack Obama that moved him to an aggressive act against an independent Arab state.

"He also knew that the reaction of Arab states would be weak, if not praising his behviour," said Nasserist MP Mostafa Bakri.

Bakri said that since he came to office in January, Donald Trump has found himself in a battle against many in America, especially the Democratic Party and the mainstream liberal media, which accuse Russia of manipulating the 2016 elections in his favour. 

"Within this context, we can guess why Trump chose the anti-Syria airstrike – that he saw it would help him compensate some lost popularity and also demonstrate that he is independent from Russia and its president Vladimir Putin," said Bakri.

Trump claimed in an address to Americans on Thursday that he authorised the airstrike because of "beautiful babies cruelly murdered" saying that "no child of God should ever suffer such horror."

Mohamed El-Orabi, a former foreign minister and a member of parliament's foreign affairs committee, deplored that "Trump refused to wait until a UN fact-finding commission investigate the chemical weapons attack in Syria."

"Trump's behaviour comes at the expense of international organisations like the Arab League and the UN and only leads to fueling war in Syria," said El-Orabi.

The US missile attack against Syria came after two Arab leaders – President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and King Abdallah of Jordan – held summit meetings with US President Donald Trump last week.

In a front-page headline on Saturday, Al-Ahram newspaper said President El-Sisi held 24 meetings with senior Trump administration officials and congressional leaders.

"All said they are honest about fighting Daesh and joining Egypt in its war against terrorism," said Al-Ahram.

In an official statement on Friday, Egypt's foreign ministry said the solution to the Syria crisis should not involve military intervention.

Bakri said the passive reaction from the Arab League reflects divisions in the Arab world.

"We know that the Arab summit in Amman last month failed to reach consensus on the Syria crisis, not to mention that Arab states who want Bashar Al-Assad ousted from office were the first to praise Trump, and all of this leads to weakening the Arab League," said Bakri.

Mona Mounir, a female MP, sharply criticised the position of Arab states towards the US airstrikes against Syria.

"While some chose to heap praise on Trump, others opted to stay silent, even if all know that like Iraq, military intervention in Syria will seriously threaten the national security of all Arab nations and open the hell gates of terrorism," said Mounir.

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