|Meet the Trumpkim|
So, what exactly is going on?
It seems, at present, that this was a one-off strike and that Trump is in fact continuing the status quo that existed before the attack, with Russia supporting the Assad government in fighting against Islamist rebels, while the US supports the SDF in its efforts against ISIS.
This is borne out by other developments in recent days which suggest that the strike against Syria was mainly a message to China and North Korea, with Trump attempting to get the Chinese to exert pressure on the North Koreans to disarm their nuclear weapons.
Since the cruise missile attack on Assad's airbase, the US air force has been active over Syria but only against ISIS and the SDF forces that its supports, killing many of them in a "friendly fire" incident.
Meanwhile a large aircraft carrier task force, centred around the USS Carl Vinson is sailing towards the seas off Korea to raise the possibility of a sudden US airstrike against North Korea. It is expected to arrive any day now, if it hasn't already arrived. This is clearly a move designed to put further pressure on the Chinese to pressure the North Koreans to comply with US demilitarization demands.
But pointing even more strongly to the fact that Trump's main focus is North Korea and not ISIS is the deployment of the massive MOAB bomb against ISIS. This bomb has an explosive force equivalent to 11 tons of TNT and the blast radius a mile wide.
This may seem counter-intuitive, after all the bomb was used against ISIS, but the key point is that the bomb is essentially ineffective against an enemy like ISIS, as AntiWar.blog points out:
"The goal [of dropping the bomb] was apparently to fulfill Trump’s earlier campaign promise to ~'Bomb the hell out of ISIS.' Unfortunately ISIS probably didn’t notice – or it’s members – spread out all over Asia, Africa, the Mid-East, Europe, and apparently the U.S. – were likely all shaking their heads and laughing. Why? Because, if ISIS really exists as a coherent entity, clearly the MOAB is exactly the wrong way to deal with the MOADE (Mother Of All Decentralized Entities.)...Surely they know that sort of centralized destruction is nearly worthless — and certainly not cost effective – against decentralized 4th Generation Warfare."But while the $16 million dollar bomb is largely useless against guerrillas hiding out in rocks and mountains, it is likely to be much more effective against the kind of concentrated military power that North Korea can bring into the field, not to mention the potential it has to damage the facilities where North Korea is developing its nuclear weapons, even the ones located deep underground. MOAB is said to generate an earthquake in the area it is dropped.
This also explains why the bomb was dropped in Afghanistan, and not Syria or Iraq, where ISIS is much more active at the moment. The cruise missile attack was naturally seen by most analysts as a move aimed at Assad. But by dropping MOAB in Afghanistan, which has a border with China and is much closer to Korea, Trump sends out the message that Assad is not so important to him, while Korea is.
All eyes to the East. That's where the action is likely to be.