U.K., France Seeking More Time For Decision On Syria Strikes
While there had been some indications earlier this week that a strike on Syria could happen before the Labor Day Weekend, two of America’s closes allies are seeking to slow the decision making process down:
LONDON — U.S. efforts to forge an international coalition to support a military strike on Syria faced fresh uncertainty Thursday, as British Prime Minister David Cameron confronted a political fight in Parliament over military action and France called for a delay until U.N. inspectors finish their work on the ground.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Cameron pledged that Britain would take no action until the United Nations had reviewed a report from weapons inspectors, who are in Syria examining the sites of an alleged chemical attack last week that left hundreds dead.
“It would be unthinkable to proceed if there was overwhelming opposition in the [U.N.] Security Council,” Cameron told Parliament.
At the same time, the prime minister offered an impassioned argument for authorizing military action. He said evidence clearly indicates that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the deadly attack and declared that the West has an obligation to deter a possible repeat of “one of the most abhorrent uses of chemical weapons in a century.”
French officials also are calling for a delay in action until U.N. inspectors conclude their report. “Before acting, we need proof,” said Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a minister and government spokeswoman, according to Bloomberg News.
The latest developments suggest that Washington’s allies will insist on waiting at least until next week before launching what initially appeared to be an imminent strike on Syria.
Will the United States wait along with them? Unless we want this attack to appear as nothing but a unilateral attack on the Syrians by the United States, one suspects that we would. Among other things, this means that its likely that Syria will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, the second largest city of a nation that has taken on the role of protector of the Assad regime to some respect. It also seems highly unlikely that President Obama would launch an attack while the summit is going on or, indeed, before it occurs at this point given that the intelligence is far from certain.
So, to some degree, the drumbeat of war, or whatever this is, will slow down just a bit over the next few days. Whether that means that this makes any kind of a strike less likely is another question.