The U.K.: “An appropriate response”
“The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks,” a spokesperson for the British government said Friday.
British Defense Minister Michael Fallon affirmed this support, telling the BBC that the U.K. received “advance notice of the president’s final decision.”
“It is Russia that has the influence over the regime that could bring this war to a halt if they chose to do so,” Fallon said, “and I hope will learn from what happened last night and use its influence against Assad to bring this slaughter to a stop.”
But not every British politician was fully on board.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the minority Labour Party, said the U.K. should be urging the Trump administration to exercise restraint:
“Unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.”
France and Germany: “Assad alone bears responsibility”
In a joint statement released after a phone call Friday, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted that “President Assad alone bears responsibility for this development.”
“His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own population had to be sanctioned.”
NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports that French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Friday the strikes are a reminder that defeating the Islamic State is not the only priority for Western allies:
‘NOW A SIGNAL HAS BEEN GIVEN,’ SAID AYRAULT. ‘AND RUSSIA AND IRAN MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THEIR UNQUESTIONING SUPPORT OF THE REGIME OF BASHAR AL-ASSAD MAKES NO SENSE.’
‘AYRAULT SAID THE PARTIES MUST COME BACK TO GENEVA FOR DEEP, SINCERE NEGOTIATIONS.’
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also cautioned that there is need for a multilateral response.
“As understandable as a U.S. military strike against military structures is after the failure of the Security Council, it’s just as crucial to look at joint peace efforts in the framework of the U.N.,” he said in a statement.
Turkey: “I hope this operation marks a beginning”
“We find it important and significant that Mr. Trump particularly kept his promise and staged the operation, and we support it,” Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said, according to Hurriyet Daily News. “We are also calling on all the international community to be in solidarity on this issue.”
The paper reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the strike at a rally Friday.
“We find this [operation] positive as a step against the al-Assad regime’s war crimes committed with chemical and conventional weapons. But is it enough? I don’t see it as being enough,” he said. “No one has the right to feel tranquil and secure in a world where children are brutally slaughtered.”
He added: “I hope this operation marks a beginning.”
Iran: “Such measures will strengthen terrorists”
The “unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law,” said Bahram Ghasemi of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, according to The New York Times.
Like Russia, Iran is an ally of Assad’s regime.
Citing the ISNA news agency, Al-Jazeera also notes Ghasemi said that “such measures will strengthen terrorists … and it will complicate the situation in Syria and the region.”
Russia isolates itself and sides with Iran and Syria
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev today angrily denounced President Trump for his decision Thursday night to strike a Syrian air base linked to a chemical weapons attack that left at least 86 dead.
Medvedev, in a heated post on his Facebook page, appeared to signal that Russia’s hopes for greater cooperation with the Trump administration on the issue of the Syrian civil war were over: “That’s it,” he wrote.
“Straight after the election I remarked that everything would depend on how quickly the machine of power broke Trump’s pre-election policies. It took just two and a half months,” the post said.
“With his military action the U.S. president’s administration has proved also its non-independence, its extreme dependence on the opinion of the Washington establishment,” Medvedev wrote, describing the two countries’ relations as “utterly spoilt.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to comment directly on Thursday night’s strikes.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin regarded the strike “as aggression against a sovereign nation” that was carried out “in violation of international law, and also under an invented pretext.”
Saudi Arabia: A “courageous” response to “odious crimes”
“Saudi Arabia fully supports the US military operations against military targets in Syria, which were a response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians,” a Foreign Ministry official said, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Jordan: “A necessary and appropriate response”
“Jordan considers the strike as a necessary and appropriate response to the nonstop targeting of innocent civilians with WMDs and committing crimes against humanity,” said Mohammad Momani, the Jordanian minister of state for media affairs and communications.
Israel: A “strong and clear message”
Israel “fully supports” the “strong and clear message” sent by the airstrikes,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He added that the message should “resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
China: No public response yet
Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his first in-person meetings with President Trump in Florida on Friday — but Xi has yet to make public remarks regarding the strikes on Syria. Nor has his government.
It bears noting that Trump’s response in Syria has some implications for how he may approach North Korea, another country that has given the international community fits.
China remains one of North Korea’s few allies, and NPR’s Elise Hu notes that Beijing’s defense agreement with Pyongyang means that if the U.S. decides to strike North Korea, the U.S. and China would be effectively at war.
Japan: “Highly praises” President Trump’s “strong commitment”
“In Syria, chemical weapons have once again taken the lives of many innocent people. The international community is immensely shocked by this tragedy in which young children were among the victims. It is extremely inhumane and violates the relevant United Nations Security Council resolution,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement.
“The Government of Japan supports the resolve of the U.S. Government of never tolerating the proliferation and use of chemical weapons. We understand that the latest action taken by the United States was a measure intended to prevent the further worsening of the situation.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) US Republican Senator.
According to Paul, the president should have come to Congress and he also questioned the wisdom of the attack because down the road it may have unintended consequences.
“The only way the president is allowed to act unilaterally is to prevent an imminent attack or to respond to an imminent attack,” Paul said. “Even when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, FDR came the next morning and asked Congress for approval before he did anything.”
“I think it is unconstitutional,” he added. “The question whether or not is advisable, we should have a big robust debate. In the Iraq war, everyone was gleeful to go after an evil dictator — Saddam Hussein.
And yet, the end result was Iran became stronger. And now, the same loud cries for war against Hussein are the same loud cries for war against Iran. So if we topple … Assad, what comes next? Would we like the Islamic rebels to take over? Perhaps they hate us and Israel more than Assad does.”
“I support the administration’s strike on the air base that launched the chemical attack. I hope this teaches President Assad not to use chemical weapons again,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said.
Trump’s quick action was in response to the chemical attack that left as many as 72 civilians dead, including woman and children.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and former vice presidential candidate, issued a statement: “Congress will work with the President, but his failure to seek Congressional approval is unlawful.”
The statements came as the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles targeted at an airbase at Shayrat. The attack was targeted at the airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas in the base, officials said.
“Any further action will require close scrutiny by Congress,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D- Ill., said.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., also commented on the importance of Congressional approval, saying, “Any longer-term or larger military operation in Syria by the Trump Administration will need to be done in consultation with the Congress.”
“This week’s unspeakable chemical weapons attack is only the latest in a long series of horrors perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad on innocent men, women and children,” Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement issued on the attacks in Syria.
“Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the the regime’s use of chemical weapons. If the President intends to escalate the U.S. military’s involvement in Syria, he must to come to Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force which is tailored to meet the threat and prevent another open-ended war in the Middle East.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement that, “making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.”
“It is incumbent on the Trump administration to come up with a strategy and consult with Congress before implementing it. I salute the professionalism and skill of our Armed Forces who took action today,” Schumer added.
While most came out in support of the strike, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-HI, released a statement on Thursday condemning the attack.
HONOLULU, HI—CONGRESSWOMAN TULSI GABBARD (HI-02) RELEASED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT TODAY AFTER THE U.S. LAUNCHED MILITARY STRIKES ON SYRIAN GOVERNMENT TARGETS:
“It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard said, adding that, “this escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia—which could lead to nuclear war.”
Gabbard said the Trump administration had “acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, condemned the Syrian chemical attacks, saying their “actions underscore why the United States should embrace innocent people who are fleeing in terror.”
“The Constitution gives the power to authorize the use of military force to the legislative branch. Expanded military intervention in Syria requires action by Congress,” Warren said in a statement on the U.S. strikes on Syria.
“If President Trump expects such an authorization, he owes the American people an explanation of his strategy to bring an end to the violence in Syria. We should not escalate this conflict without clear goals and a plan to achieve them.”