By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
Britain’s most powerful governmental body, Parliament, met in the Palace of Westminster (pictured above) yesterday to debate whether or not the UK should join the US in a strike against Syria. Despite the Prime Minister, David Cameron, being very vocal in his support for joining the US in punishing Syria for their use of chemical weapons, Parliament ultimately decided against it.
Cameron will respect Parliament’s decision, and said, “I strongly believe in the need for a tough response in the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons.” While the voting was more of a symbolic one, rather than a final “binding” one, Cameron’s loss makes it likely there will be no second-round vote next week.
Unless the UN inspectors come back with undeniable evidence of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s involvement in the attack on the Syrian capital of Damascus last week, it’s likely the UK will not be providing direct military support. The investigators are expected to report to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, this coming weekend. “Diplomacy should be given a chance and peace given a chance,” said Ban Ki-moon. “It is important that all differences of opinion should be solved through peaceful means and through dialogue.”
As far as the US, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, “President (Barack) Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States,” and that “there are core interests at stake for the United States and… countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable.”
Since Obama told Syria that they would cross a “red line” for using chemical weapons against their people a year ago, if he doesn’t act, then al-Assad may be emboldened to continue using chemical weapons. Syria, of course, continues to deny its involvement in the attack, blaming the rebels in its civil war, but the US says the rebels have nowhere near enough supplies to have carried out last week’s terrible act.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, at a news conference in Manila, Philippines, said, “The British have been very strong in condemning the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and that vote in the Parliament doesn’t change that. That is a very significant position for any nation to take publicly. We’ll continue to work with Britain and consult with Britain as we are with all our allies.”