Photo Credit: WH.gov
Jordan's King Abdullah II, US President Donald Trump at joint White House news briefing

U.S. policy regarding Syria may have just seen an about-face. The images of the suffering of small children and babies, quivering under the effects of lethal sarin nerve gas used Tuesday during air strikes aimed at innocent Syrian civilians appeared to have had a profound effect on President Donald Trump.

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He opened a joint briefing with Jordan’s King Abdullah II with remarks about the chemical weapons attack carried out in Idlib province by either government military pilots, the Russian air force, or both, “against innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies,” the president said. “Their deaths were an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks for that matter.”

He added that he is a “flexible” person and with regard to Syria, yesterday’s attack had been a game-changer. In response to a question about whether the chemical attack had crossed a “red line” for him, Trump said:

“It crossed a lot of lines for me when you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was. That crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines. Thank you very much.”

King Abdullah said in response that he has been “delighted” by President Trump’s global approach to dealing with terrorism. He also praised Trump’s “early engagement” on issues in the Middle East, and said everyone in the “neighborhood” has the job of facilitating the president’s work and must “smooth the edges” as a way to help the U.S. solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, what he called the “core conflict” in the Middle East.

The Jordanian monarch noted that he has known Trump for “many years.” He pointed out, “This is a strategic partnership that we keep very close to our hearts, and it is a partnership on so many levels. I am very delighted for your vision, your holistic approach to all the challenges in our region, and to the dedication of your team in being able to translate your policy to actions successfully, hopefully, as we move forward. The challenges we face today are many and not exclusive to my region as we have just mentioned, they are global — particularly the threats to global security.

“Terrorism has no borders, no nationality, no religion; and therefore joint action with a holistic approach … is crucial,” he said. “I am very delighted you have the vision to be able to move in that direction, and I think the world will be in a good place as we move with all these challenges ahead… The role of the U.S. is key to all the issues that we have around the world.

The king added, however, that America should not be expected to become the problem-solver of the world — nor in the Middle East. “It’s not just that we should expect the U.S. to do all the heavy lifting. The heavy lifting has to be done by all of us in the international community to support the United States in being able to translate that vision into the right direction — so there’s a lot of responsibility for all of us in the international community to support the president, the administration and the American people to bring brighter days to all of us.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.