the tooth fairy
It will be “very difficult” for the UK government to refuse military assistance to the US in Syria if they expressly ask for it, British FM Boris Johnson has said, responding to an MP’s question on if he intends to heed parliament’s vote against the incursion.
British Foreign Secretary Johnson was on Tuesday briefing MPs on the situation in Syria and North Korea, when he was posed with a question by former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Conservative MP, Alistair Burt. Burt asked what the UK government’s reaction would have been if, instead of just hitting Syria’s Shayrat airfield on April 7, Washington decided to first enlist military help from Britain.
When asked if he and the British government consider themselves to be “bound” by the past decision not to intervene in Syria and plan to reinvigorate the parliamentary debate or “if not, what might the United Kingdom be able to do to demonstrate its force and resolve,” Johnson hinted that the UK is ready to back Washington not only politically but also militarily.
“We were not asked for specific support, but it is my belief—I stress that no such decision has yet been taken—that were such a request to be made in future and were it to be a reasonable request in pursuit of similar objectives, it would be very difficult for the United Kingdom to say no,” the top British diplomat said, without elaborating.
Johnson’s Tuesday comments seem to indicate a departure from a previous UK policy on Syria that has been in place since a dramatic House of Commons vote on the issue in 2013, which ended in a crushing defeat for interventionist bid championed by former Prime Minister David Cameron.April 12, 2017
Alistair reminded Johnson of the Parliament’s decision to vote down the motion that would have authorized military involvement into Syria back in August 2013 under fairly similar circumstances. At the time, the rebels accused the Syrian government of perpetrating a sarin gas attack in a Damascus suburb. The allegations were strongly denied by the Syrian authorities, which, in turn, blamed the militants, claiming it was a false-flag operation. Later, former US Secretary of State John Kerry confessed that British MPs’ lack of support for the mulled US airstrikes in Syria at the time led to delay in decision-making in Washington and thus derailed the operation.
While the defeat in Parliament dealt a heavy blow to Cameron’s foreign policy ambitions, he conceded, saying that although he “strongly believes” in the need for military intervention in Syria, “it is clear” that “the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action.”
Johnson reiterated that in attacking Syria “the United States has acted with the full support of the British Government,” adding that the “only one conclusion” that could be reached based on the known evidence of the alleged chemical attack in rebel-held Idlib province is that “the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people.”