Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday spelt out a series of measures to show that he is putting his money where his mouth is insofar as his stand on the Syria crisis is concerned. Mr. Cameron has been the most bellicose of the Western alliance leaders in calling for armed intervention in Syria in retaliation for the August 21 chemical weapons attack, allegedly unleashed by the Bashar Al-Assad government against unarmed civilians.
The Cameron government does not want to wait till the United Nations forensic inspectors, currently in Damascas, submit their report. The U.K. is submitting a resolution to the Security Council of the United Nations to give it the opportunity to “live up to its responsibilities on Syria”, the Prime Minister’s office said in a press statement, “while condemning the attack by the Assad regime, and authorising all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons”.
In tandem with U.S.
The Prime Minister called for a meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday. He spoke last night with U.S. President Barack Obama in what was described in an official statement as an “opportunity for the PM to hear the latest U.S. thinking on the issue and to set out the options being considered by the government”. Both leaders “confirmed a chemical weapons attack had taken place, noting that even the Iranian President and Syrian regime had conceded this”.
The statement notes: “They both agreed they were in no doubt that the Assad regime was responsible. Regime forces were carrying out a military operation to regain that area from the opposition at the time; and there is no evidence that the opposition has the capability to deliver such a chemical weapons attack.”
Mr. Cameron has also called for a recall of Parliament on Thursday to allow MPs to debate the intervention.
There have been few voices in support of Mr. Cameron, although several against, including from his own party.
Commentators have been quick to seize on the analogies between the current crisis and that of the 2003 Iraq War (“The heir to Blair”, was the headline in Wednesday’s Independent) in which the then Labour PM Tony Blair enthusiastically committed U.K. troops to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on the pretext that it was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
The website Iraq Body Count said that the conflict has seen between 1.14 lakh and 1.25 lakh civilians killed to date.
The present Labour leader Ed Miliband has reacted cautiously, saying that his party would “consider supporting international action but only on the basis that it was legal, that it was specifically limited to deterring the future use of chemical weapons and that any action contemplated had clear and achievable military goals”.