US Secretary of Defence James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis has said that it is crucial for the United States to communicate and to ‘de-conflict’ with Russia to avoid being sucked into a wider war in Syria.
These remarks represent a stark departure from those issued by Sean Spicer and Nikki Haley yesterday. Haley in particular said that the US would hold both Russia and Iran responsible for a chemical attack by Syria which the American side said is being prepared, this in spite of the fact that the OPCW has said that the Syrian government and its armed forces do not have any chemical weapons.
Such remarks were not only deeply worrying but surreal. Russia has condemned the US for such remarks and cautioned America against any infringements to Syria’s sovereignty and its right to self defence.
In spite of the fact that Russia has cancelled the direct line to the United States known as The Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety, Mattis said that the United States has “a very active deconfliction line” with Russia and that furthermore, the US does not seek to “get drawn into a fight” in Syria.
“So we just refuse to get drawn into a fight there in the Syria civil war”.
“We deconflict with the Russians; it’s a very active deconfliction line. It’s on several levels, from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of state with their counterparts in Moscow, General Gerasimov and Minister Lavrov”.
While the Syrian conflict is best described as a multi-layered foreign proxy war, rather than a traditional civil war, Mattis’s statements are a clear climb down from the aggressive posturing American officials engaged in as recently as yesterday.
Mattis reiterated that the US seeks only to target ISIS and will communicate with Russia to coordinate future strikes to avoid any conflict with Russia and her allies which include Syria and Iran.