UK vote on Syria premature

The UK messed up its foreign policy decision making towards the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Cameron in House of Commons during Syria debate

Copyright BBC, 2013. Cameron in House of Commons

In the Guardian today:

The prospect of British involvement in military action in Syria ended dramatically last night when David Cameron suffered a surprise and humiliating Commons defeat on the issue.

Despite concessions by the Prime Minister to opponents of military action, a rebellion by Conservative MPs and strong opposition by Labour saw the Government defeated by 285 votes to 272.

The vote leaves Mr Cameron’s foreign policy in disarray and will raise new questions over his leadership. He is unable to deliver British support to American-led strikes on Syria over the Assad regime’s alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians near Damascus. The vote will dismay the Obama administration, which is now likely to press ahead without the UK, perhaps as early as this weekend. One US military official said after the vote: “We care about what the UK thinks. We value the [Parliamentary] process but we’re going to make the decision we need to make.”

It seems that the UK acted prematurely by voting for military intervention before any conclusive United Nations’ reports were published. Germany and the Netherlands are countries who are impatiently waiting for the UN team in Syria to report to them, before any decisions would be made.

Prime Minister David Cameron overconfidently followed the US in its evidence, while it appears that, in Europe, even in the UK, Parliament prefers more conclusive and transparent information. The results of voting on some form of intervention in the House of Commons, after reports from on the ground by the UN, could have turned out in favour of intervention.



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