In a surprise move, the UK parliament has voted against military intervention in Syria, leaving Prime Minister David Cameron to explain the decision to US President Barack Obama.
The vote was lost 285-272, and afterwards Cameron said:” I think the American people and President Obama will understand that we have to listen to parliament. Parliament spoke and I think parliament expressed a very clear view which is that it doesn’t want British involvement in military actions so we will proceed in that basis.”
The opposition Labour leader, Ed Milibrand supported the decision: “If Britain had engaged in a rush to war, on an ill thought through basis, not working with the international community, not going through the United Nations, that would have been bad for our country and bad for the people of Syria as well. We must learn the lessons of Iraq.”
Amid speculation on the possible fallout of the vote, leaders of the US and UK both declared that the “special relationship” between the two countries would be undamaged and they would continue to work together to find an appropriate response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people.
Who supports and opposes military intervention in Syria?
In the region
Turkey – It has been one of the most vocal critics of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since early on in the uprising.
Israel – Israeli forces have carried out three strikes on targets in Syria this year, reportedly to prevent weapons shipments reaching the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia – Apparently Saudi Arabia has been one of the main suppliers of funds to the Syrian rebels.
Iraq – Although not as critical of Syria as some Arab countries, Iraq is against an intervention. Any Western military move could lead to an increase in sectarian violence in Iraq.
Iran – Officials from Iran, Syria’s chief ally, said publicly that US-led strikes on Syria would provoke retaliation on Israel.
Egypt – Egypt’s foreign minister says his country strongly opposes military action against Syria and would not support possible punitive strikes.
Around the world
USA – President Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria despite a rejection of action by its usual ally Britain and mounting concern from Congress.
United Kingdom – Parliament voted no to a proposal from Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government that would have authorised military action in Syria.
Russia – As one of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s biggest allies Russia is strongly opposed to any military intervention. Russia vetoed a UN resolution authorising “necessary measures” to intervene in Syria.
Germany – Is against any military action saying its international operations are already at “breaking point” and that a strike could create a “spiral of escalating violence”.
China – Is strongly against a strike and also vetoed a UN resolution authorising “necessary measures” to intervene in Syria. It says countries must wait until results of the probe are complete, it is calling for a “political resolution”.
Yet to decide
France – President Francois Hollande has urged a political solution but also said France stood ready to punish those behind the apparent gas attack.