1.The U.S strike against an Assad regime base Sahrayat in northern Syria on April 6, 2017 opened the scope for a reorientation of US strategy in the Middle East. President Trump's action could reset the terms of America's confrontation of other hostile states too, such as North Korea. President Trump may be shifting away from a narrow focus on the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) as the strategic priority in Syria and toward a new approach. It remains unclear whether he will take additional action against the Assad regime, but his statement after the strike appeared to signal an emerging anti-Assad policy. Responses from major international powers and key regional actors indicate that these parties perceive the strike represents a possible strategic inflection rather than an isolated incident. President Trump has the opportunity to exploit the effects of his limited action to pursue America's strategic goals.
2.Regional actors responded as if a wider American reorientation against Assad is possible. Traditional US partners in the region like Saudi Arabia and Jordan supported the strike. Turkey also praised the strike and called for additional US action against the Assad regime. These reactions indicate that the strike created an opportunity for President Trump to repair America's relationships with traditional partners, which had begun to reorient toward Russia or to act unilaterally in dangerous ways in the absence of American leadership. European states also supported the strike, indicating that the US can still shape European policies toward Syria. President Trump may have an opportunity to leverage European support for counter-Assad measures to re-engage Europe on the need to confront Russia in Syria . Actors deeper within the Russo-Iranian orbit, including Egypt and Iraq's Shi'a political parties, expressed caution.
Russia is to blame for "every civilian death" in the chemical weapons attack last week in Syria, UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has claimed. Sir Michael, writing in the Sunday Times, said the Kremlin was responsible "by proxy" as the "principal backer" of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
3.The pro-regime axis Assad, Iran, and Russia reacted in different but complementary ways. The Assad regime and Iran initially responded with caution. Their reactions indicate shared intent to avoid additional US responses. The Assad regime downplayed the impact of the strike and resumed normal operations. Iran portrayed the US as a regional aggressor but did not take military action. Iran's initial reaction reflected a desire not to provoke the US to escalate against Assad. Iran's proxies also displayed discipline and did not escalate above previous levels of anti-American rhetoric. Iran's response indicates that Iran seeks to avoid drawing the US further into the region. The lack of immediate escalation by Iran or its proxies does not indicate that Iran will fail to respond if the US takes additional action against Assad. Iran will undertake a sophisticated and possibly offensive strategy against US interests and personnel in theater if it perceives further US action against Assad is likely. Iran will also attempt to develop a joint response with Russia.
4.Russia's initial response was reactionary. Russia focused first on repairing Vladimir Putin's strongman image and the perception of the strength of Russian aerial defensive capabilities by condemning the strike and undertaking a show of force. Russia deployed a missile frigate to the Mediterranean Sea, conducted massive domestic military exercises, halted use of the aerial anti-conflict mechanism with the US in Syria, and stated, it would bolster the Assad regime's air defenses to deter further US action. Russia later stated that it will speed up development of the S-500 system for domestic air defense. Russia shifted its narrative approach after 24 hours to cast President Trump as reckless. Russian rhetoric and propaganda portrayed the US as an irresponsible aggressor in an effort to deny popular support for further US intervention in Syria. ( Source: BBC and ISW)