Kawa Hassan spoke on April 16 to Voice of America's Kurdish Service about the latest strikes against Syrian targets following a suspected chemical attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime. Below are excerpts from his interview.
Voice of America (VOA): France, the UK and the U.S. have said the strikes were successful. But the majority of Syrians, and even the Syrian opposition, say these strikes haven't changed the situation on the ground. What is your assessment?
Kawa Hassan (KH): Indeed the Western powers said they achieved their goals. But from a strategic perspective, these strikes did not change the balance of power on the battlefield. Part of the reason for the strikes was the West's guilty feeling towards the Syrian people because the West has consistently failed to stop regime brutality and chemical attacks on Syrian civilians. It is as if Western powers wanted to tell Assad that "we raid these facilities yet you can continue your conventional bombings and barrel bombs on your opposition and civilians."
VOA: Last year, the U.S. struck suspected chemical sites in Syria. What is the difference between that and the latest raids?
KH: There is a difference between the two. Last year, the U.S. was on its own in striking the Shayrat air base. This time around, theUK and France joined the U.S. There were concerns that Russia would retaliate but it didn't happen. Neither the West nor Russia wants a direct military confrontation. It seemed that the U.S. informed Russia in advance about the sites they would attack. Also the Syrian regime evacuated those sites in advance.
VOA: Will the new U.S. sanctions against Russia lead to a war between the West and Russia?
KH: No, they will not lead to a military confrontation or World War III between both sides. Neither side will gain from a direct military confrontation. Perhaps the sanctions will hurt Russia but this will not lead to any change in Russia's policy towards the Syrian war. Russia and Iran have a clear policy on the Syrian conflict, while the U.S. and the West don't possess a clear-cut strategy and vision. As a result the balance of power will not change on the ground.