UK and France backing away from Syria strike
posted at 1:21 pm on August 29, 2013 by Bruce McQuain
The shaky coalition of Western nations promising to strike Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons is getting even shakier. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron is reconsidering:
David Cameron backed down and agreed to delay a military attack on Syria following a growing revolt over the UK’s rushed response to the crisis on Wednesday night.
The Prime Minister has now said he will wait for a report by United Nations weapons inspectors before seeking the approval of MPs for “direct British involvement” in the Syrian intervention.
Oh look … Cameron plans on getting the approval of Parliament before committing British troops to war.
That’s because opposition British politicians apparently play hardball while ours … well they talk and complain a lot:
Senior sources had previously suggested that Britain would take part in strikes as soon as this weekend which meant an emergency recall of Parliament was necessary on Thursday.
However, following Labour threatening not to support the action and senior military figures expressing concerns over the wisdom of the mission, the Prime Minister on Wednesday night agreed to put British involvement on hold.
The climbdown is likely to be seen as an embarrassment for Mr Cameron as he was determined to play a leading role in British military strikes, which had been expected this weekend.
France too is showing signs of waffling:
French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that Syria needed a political solution, but that could only happen if the international community could halt killings like last week’s chemical attack and better support the opposition.
Hollande sounded a more cautious note than earlier in the week, when he said France stood ready to punish those behind the apparent poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in Damascus.
He indicated that France was looking to Gulf Arab countries to step up their military support to the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, after Paris said this week it would do so.
Not exactly the saber rattling that was going on a few days ago. It appears a “political solution” may be code words for “yeah, we’re climbing down too.”
Don’t expect a climbdown here. At least not anytime soon. Not only has President Obama said he doesn’t need Congress’s approval, he’s also decided he doesn’t need to inform the American people of his decision via a televised Oval Office announcement. However he would like the cover of a coalition (my, the shadenfreude here is delicious, isn’t it?).
If one had to guess, however, any strike this week would be sans the British and the French. And that may be enough to delay an American strike (don’t forget, President Obama claims he hasn’t made a decision yet).
Meanwhile in the Med, tensions spiral up as Russia decides to flex a little naval muscle in the area:
Russia will “over the next few days” be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria, the Interfax news agency said on Thursday.
“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax.
Interesting. And, if the strikes don’t happen now, who will claim to have helped called the coalition’s bluff?
As with most things concerning foreign affairs that this administration involves itself, this is turning into a debacle of major proportion.