‘Syria is a Sovereign Country’: Biden Team Used to Say
Story Code : 918797
The remarks, made in a tweet on April 7, 2017, were those of Jen Psaki, who currently serves as the White House press secretary.
“Also what is the legal authority for strikes?” Psaki asked in that tweet, which came after the US launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Syria for a suspected chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib Province, which Washington blamed on Damascus.
Also what is the legal authority for strikes? Assad is a brutal dictator. But Syria is a sovereign country.
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) April 7, 2017
The tweet resurfaced right after the US – this time under President Biden – attacked facilities belonging to anti-terror resistance fighters at a border point in Syria’s eastern Day al-Zawr Province on Thursday. The attack killed one and wounded four others.
Thousands of Twitter users replied to Psaki’s old tweet, so as to point out the hypocrisy of the new White House dwellers. It was as if they were expecting to see when – not if – the Biden administration begins to conduct new illegal strikes against Syria.
Progressive Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, brought up the tweet in response to the strike. “Great question,” Omar wrote.
Great question. https://t.co/79K8uyzwGi
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 26, 2021
Republican Senator Rand Paul also responded. He condemned meddling in Syria and “attacking a sovereign nation.” Paul also questioned what authority the US president has to strike Syria, saying, “Perhaps someone should ask his @PressSec today?”
I condemn meddling in Syria’s civil war. I also condemn attacking a sovereign nation without authority.
What authority does @POTUS have to strike Syria?
Perhaps someone should ask his @PressSec today? https://t.co/nLxbZNLx4J
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 26, 2021
With the Thursday attack, Biden officially became the third consecutive US president that waged war against Syria, a country that has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since 2011. Trump, who was attacked by the Democrats for his reckless adventures in Syria and Afghanistan, waited three months to launch his illegal strikes on Syria, compared to Biden who did the same just after a month into his presidency.
In another tweet on the same day Trump attacked Syria, Psaki asked, “The big question now is what is next--is this a long term military commitment? Is there a diplomatic plan to follow? What is our objective?”
The big question now is what is next--is this a long term military commitment? Is there a diplomatic plan to follow? What is our objective?
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) April 7, 2017
She was also quick to write an opinion piece for CNN later that day to question Trump’s action, pointing out again that “Syria is a sovereign country” with powerful friends, including Russia and Iran.
In that article, she rightly argued that “we know from all too recent history that military engagement can be a slippery slope,” asserting that the attack risked retaliation from the Syrian military, or even Russia or Iran.
Interestingly, all the issues she raised at the time, including the illegality of the attack, remain legitimate questions to pose at the Biden administration. Syria continues to be a sovereign state – whether the White House is occupied by Obama, Trump or Biden – and the United States’ attacks against the Arab country remain illegal and reckless under each and every US administration.
Meanwhile, Psaki was not the only Biden administration official who received a strong backlash for earlier remarks about Trump’s military actions in Syria. Vice President Kamala Harris, who voiced deep concerns about the “legal rationale” of Trump’s April 14, 2018 strikes against Syria, faced the same criticisms.
I strongly support our men and women in uniform and believe we must hold Assad accountable for his unconscionable use of chemical weapons. But I am deeply concerned about the legal rationale of last night’s strikes.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 14, 2018
Biden himself was a staunch critic of Trump’s military actions in Syria. In a tweet on October 16, 2019, he pointed to Trump's actions in Syria as “erratic” and “impulsive” decisions that “endanger our troops and make us all less safe.”
This afternoon, I'll be discussing Donald Trump's recent actions in Syria and how his erratic, impulsive decisions endanger our troops and make us all less safe. Tune in at 5PM ET to watch live: https://t.co/6hXwCuCLsr
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 16, 2019
The two neighboring countries of Iraq and Syria are illegally occupied by US forces.
The US invaded Iraq in 2003 to oust former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but it has continued to keep its forces in Iraq in spite of growing anti-American sentiments in the Arab country.
Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, the US has conducted several rounds of strikes against the positions of Syria’s legitimate government. The US has sent its troops to Syria as well.
Several terrorist groups such as the infamous Daesh (ISIS) have emerged in Iraq and Syria since the US occupation of the two states.
In reaction to the development, Iran, Iraq, Syria and regional resistance forces joined hands with the aim of ridding the two countries of the terrorists. As a result of their efforts, resistance forces were unified into groups such as Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi.
Now, while illegally occupying Iraq and Syria, the United States illegally attacked the PMU’s facilities near Syria’s border with Iraq on Thursday, after a suspected attack that killed a US military contractor in Iraq, for which Washington put the blame on the PMU.
Under Trump, the US conducted a high-profile drone strike that killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the PMU. The attack, directly ordered by Trump, was conducted on January 3, 2020, near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, with its main target being Iran’s top anti-terror general Qassem Soleimani, who was in on official visit to the neighboring country.
The assassination was strongly criticized by Democrats, including Biden, who said at the time that it “almost certainly will have the opposite effect” of the Trump administration’s declared goal of deterring “future attacks by Iran.” Yet, Biden himself launched the Thursday attack on the PMU with the same anti-Iran rhetoric.
Two days after the assassination of General Soleimani and his companions, the Iraqi parliament, which recognizes the PMU as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army, passed a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the US from the country, a move that further shed light on the illegality of the US presence in the region.