Friday, August 30, 2013

Cameron loses Parliament Vote:

In a stunning reverse in the House of Commons in London today, British Premier David Cameron lost a parliamentary vote on his government motion seeking backing "in principle" for military action against Syria resulting from Washington and London "intelligence" claims that the Assad government used chemical weapons in an incident in a Damascus suburb
last week.
The defeat stunned the Government Front Bench as minutes previously, a Labour Opposition amendment imposing more conditions on such action had been also defeated. More than 50 government MP's had to vote against Cameron to produce such a result.
Recriminations followed with unparliamentary language by ministers against party colleagues they suspected of having voted NO and particular ire against Labour leader, Ed Miliband who in one instance was described as "that cunt" by a senior Government member.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was deserted by all of his party colleagues which will have serious political implications for the future of the British coalition government.
Washington's plans for air strikes against Syria have been thrown into serious disarray now that the British parliament  has rejected the motion designed to pave the way for authorising  Britain's participation in any military action.
The White House was forced to consider the unpalatable option of taking unilateral action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad after the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said Britain would not now take part in any military action in response to a chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus last week. Although Britain's support was not a prerequisite for US action, the Obama administration was left exposed without the backing of its most loyal ally, which has taken part in every major US military offensive in recent years.
A spokeswoman for Obama's National Security Council said the US would consider its options in the light of the vote. "The US will continue to consult with the UK government – one of our closest allies and friends. As we've said, President Obama's decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.
"He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable."
The US appears to have been taking  British support for granted. Hours before the vote, the chairman of the US Senate intelligence committee, Diane Feinstein, expressed confidence that Britain would join any strike. Feinstein, a Democrat and staunch administration ally, told Time magazine: "I think the UK makes a difference. I think if the President were to decide to go there's a very high likelihood that the United Kingdom would be with us."
The timing of the British vote, 272 to 285 against the government, was disastrous for Obama. Less than 30 minutes after the vote, senior intelligence officials began a conference call with key members of Congress, in an attempt to keep US lawmakers on side. Congressional leaders and the chairs and ranking members of national security committees were briefed by the most senior US intelligence officials, amid signs that some of the support for military strikes against Syria was fading.
Shortly before Britain's parliamentary vote, the New York Times quoted  senior administration officials saying the US administration was prepared to launch strikes on Syria without a UN security council mandate or the support of allies such as Britain.
Earlier on Thursday, Joshua Earnest, the White House deputy spokesman, seemed to confirm that was a possibility when he was asked whether the US would "go it alone".
He repeatedly said it was in US "core national security interests" to enforce international chemical weapons norms. "The president of the United States is elected with the duty to protect the national security interests of America," he said. "The decisions he makes about our foreign policy is with our national security interests front and centre."

The US claims against Assad are mainly based on Israeli intelligence reports passed to CIA and others but, even this is being challenged;

Associated Press reports:

 A U.S. State Department spokesman admitted yesterday that the U.S. doesn’t know whether a low level rogue Syrian official is responsible for the chemical weapons attacks.

An intercept of Syrian military officials discussing the strike was among low-level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack back to an Assad insider or even a senior Syrian commander, the officials said.

So while Secretary of State, John Kerry, said on Monday that links between the attack and the Assad government are “undeniable,” U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.

 Another possibility that officials would hope to rule out: that stocks had fallen out of the government’s control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. In other words, the U.S. hasn’t yet ruled out that possibility … but only hopes to.

The New York Times writes:

American officials said Wednesday there was no “smoking gun” that directly links President Bashar al-Assad to the attack.

Obama administration officials are in disarray. In a PBS television interview last night, Obama attempted to back away from threats of an imminent attack: “We have not yet made a decision, but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place. If we are saying this in a clear and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying, stop doing this; that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term.”

"A shot across the bow" is a naval term for a warning shot not intended to hit anything on a rival vessel but just a demonstration of potential force. This would be in Obama'a statement there firing a tomahawk missile to fly across Damascus and land somewhere in the uninhabited Syrian desert.

Obama’s claim that his administration has not decided to move against Assad is an absurd lie. Washington has called for Assad’s overthrow for over a year, while the CIA massively armed Al Qaeda-linked Islamist opposition militias against his regime.

A senior US official contradicted Obama yesterday, telling NBC that US moves toward intervention in Syria are “past the point of no return,” and that strikes will be launched in days.

Obama is also encountering opposition to his attempt to launch a war without a vote in Congress, in violation of the US Constitution. A petition signed by 111 House lawmakers, 94 Republicans and 17 Democrats, warns that this would “violate the separation of powers.” The petition asks that Congress be reconvened so it can back the war and “share the burden of decisions made regarding US involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.”



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