By Christopher Lee, Defence Analyst.
The morning after the night before presents two questions: battle damage assessment and who wins?
The daylight battle damage assessment is done on the prime targets before going in again if needs be... to tidy up: the research facilities at Jaraya and Barzeh in northern and north-western Damascus and the storage bases on the Republican Guard’s airfield at Mezzeh and Kiswah Homs.
The first assessment is that the air and sea launch missiles were good but not 100% hits.
The second question is the opinion polling on the main political players: Trump, Putin and Assad.
President Trump gets Washington DC’s 'Gold Badge of Courage' because he said 'Let’s Do It', unlike his infuriatingly saintly predecessor Barack Obama who kept Americans well away from the war.
From this day, Trump’s Make My Day Tweets must be taken seriously.
President Putin agreed with his generals that the Syrian air force could disperse to Russian bases for protection and that Syrians would, after talks with America, be warned which bases were on the US Coalition target list and be evacuated in good time.
In theory then, no Syrian, no Russian casualties.
Putin gave America a clear run at Syria last night and so no provocations for World War III.
Also, Putin never wanted Assad to play with chemical weapons.
So in all, Putin the pragmatist comes out the attack unscathed and by warning Iranian commands in Syria that America will not attack them as long as they take the night off the war, the thousands of Iranian in Syria are untouched.
This also helps the Iranian leadership.
Putin is something of a local hero this morning in Syria, in Tehran and in Washington for his ‘co-operation’.
Assad is not forgotten. Last night Syria was attacked by America (the French and British don’t count for much) and Assad was defiant.
So a few flags and celebrations and Assad is seen to have had a good night especially as hardly anyone was killed - forget the tragedy of Douma.
So that could be that.
Trump had to call the operation, while Prime Minister May and President Macron played out their own drama of who is Trump’s newest, bestest friend.
(Answer: militarily neither matter. Politically, nothing’s changed. Just vote the right way in the UN Security Council).
And Putin? Putin agreed not to cause trouble. America could have a $multimillion missile night out and prove something but it’ll take a week or two to see what that was.
The greater truth is simpler: Russia stuck by its client in the Middle East.
The US for the past decade had avoided its earlier promises as everyone who watched Washington abandon responsibilities to the Egyptian leadership understood.
President Assad started out with a rebellion against his voted-for regime.
He retaliated and Syria fell to civil war with proxy wars (Saudi Arabia v Iran, Turkey v Kurds etc) crisscrossing the main battle areas between Syrian air force and army commands and a mixed bag of unreliable rebels bankrolled by Middle East and American led nations who wanted Assad to fall but were not willing to go into Syrian to make that happen.
Well, the theatre of the past 48 or so hours shows the failure of the Western effort: bad judgement of what was going on in 2011 and who to support and in what way.
Consequently, 'Assad and Friends' proved a formidable trio.
As the reasoning behind last night’s attack shows, the USA and Co came second.