Britain weighing military action in Syria
Los Angeles Times
LONDON — In a sign of the increasing likelihood of a military strike on Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron summoned British lawmakers from their summer recess Tuesday for an emergency session on possible intervention in the Syrian conflict.
Cameron said the House of Commons would have a chance Thursday to debate and vote on Britain’s “response to chemical weapons attacks” in Syria. News reports said the British government is preparing contingency plans for some kind of armed intervention.
Cameron cut short his own summer vacation in southwest England to return to London for a meeting to be held Wednesday with his national security advisors. Although his administration could order a military intervention without Parliament’s approval, many lawmakers have warned him against acting unilaterally.
“I’m not prepared to write the government a blank check. ... They haven’t been clear as to the military objectives that they’re aiming for,” Douglas Alexander, the opposition Labor Party’s spokesman on foreign affairs, told the BBC. “They aren’t clear on the basis of the evidence that they themselves have seen. And they aren’t yet clear as to the legal basis on which any action would be conducted.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that any Western intervention in Syria would be in accord with international law but would not necessarily require sanction from the United Nations.
Britain’s participation in a possible airstrike could involve the use of its submarine- or aircraft-based missiles.
Along with France, Britain has been the most vocal advocate in Europe for punishing the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attacks on rebels. Germany has also expressed support for forceful action.
But Italy’s foreign minister insisted Tuesday that any international response have U.N. Security Council backing.
“Italy will not take active part in any military action ... beyond the context of the Security Council, which for us is and remains the only point of legal reference that cannot be ignored,” Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said, according to the Associated Press.