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article imageOp-Ed: UK MPs vote against military action against Syria

By Ken Hanly     Aug 29, 2013 in Politics
London - In a stunning defeat for David Cameron, the Prime Minister, Members of Parliament voted 285 votes to 272 against a motion that would endorse military action against Syria. The vote represents a majority of 13 in favor of rejection of the motion.
Although the vote is non-binding, in practical terms Cameron will not be able to go ahead and support any use of military force against the regime. The UK government seemed days away from joining the US in an attack. Six RAF jets had already been sent to Cyprus ahead of possible missile strikes. After the vote Cameron said in Parliament that it was clear to him that the British people did not want to see any military action.
Cameron had already taken the rare step of releasing an assessment of the Syrian attack by the Joint Intelligence Committee. Cameron says that the assessment indicates that on the evidence Assad is the only person with the motive and ability to have been able to launch an attack on the regime last week. The JIC conclusion was that it was highly likely that the Assad regime carried out the attack. Unlike Cameron who spoke of Assad being the only person with the motive to carry out the attack, the JIC could not come up with a "precise motivation" for the attack. The Washington Post suggests that the vote in the UK comes just as political objections to the US-led intervention increased in the US and Britain.
Cameron's defeat came even as Cameron had watered down the motion after the Labour opposition demands for more evidence of Assad's guilt. A Labour motion demanding compelling evidence, however, was defeated by 114 votes. The government motion made support conditional upon evidence from the UN inspectors showing Assad's guilt. The BBC report speaks of UN inspectors " who are investigating claims President Bashar al-Assad's regime had used chemical weapons against civilians." I do not know where the BBC got this information. The mandate of the UN inspectors is simply to find out if chemical weapons were used and of what kind etc. not to find out who used them. The evidence might help determine who could have used them.
There have been demands in the US by members of Congress and by the general public that Congress authorize any US strike. There is no evidence so far that Obama intends to have this happen before he strikes.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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