x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Cameron's failure in parliament complicates Obama's response to Syrian chemical weapons

Britain's rebellion on Syrian action makes Obama's choice more difficult. Other views: Iran is benefitting from division on Syria and Iraq's sectarian tensions must not continue

Seven hours of heated debate in the British House of Commons on Thursday ended with voting down a government motion to provisionally authorise military intervention in Syria in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons on August 21.

"The failed motion would have a major effect on the scenario of the anticipated military intervention, on the image of Great Britain in the world and on the political future of British prime minister David Cameron," noted the pan-Arab daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial.

The results of the vote at the British parliament emphasised the deeply-rooted bitterness across the country following Britain's involvement in the war in Iraq.

By voting down Mr Cameron's motion, members of the House of Commons, who didn't believe that the military intervention in Syria would be in the form of limited strikes, seemed to be apologising for a similar decision they championed 10 years ago.

The fear of repeating the Iraqi scenario may have been the main motive behind the parliament's rejection of military involvement, but other internal factors also had their bearing on the voting process, namely the economic situation.

The war on Syria would be costly and the British people aren't prepared to foot the bill.

The Labour Party saw the vote as an opportunity to regain some of its popularity and wash off the dirt left by the former labour prime minister, Tony Blair, as he spearheaded the campaign to wage war on Iraq in 2003.

Another crucial factor is the general mood in the UK, where the pople have no interest in seeing their country at the forefront of any international military action.

"David Cameron's position was weak as he walked into the House of Commons. He hoped the House and the war decision would boost his popularity, but he came out defeated and weaker," the paper said.

The British government's defeat will reflect on its role in the international arena.

Its repercussions would be mostly felt on the relationship with the US, especially that British diplomats and the prime minister himself went to great lengths to persuade President Obama to interfere militarily against the Assad regime.

With Britain's withdrawal, the international military coalition would include the US, Turkey and France and would feature a limited participation from the Gulf.

"Britain's non-participation in the military intervention in Syria doesn't cancel it, but it does make president Obama's mission more difficult as it affects America's momentum regarding this issue," the article concluded.

Iran benefits from the division over Syria

It doesn't matter how Syrian president Bashar Al Assad interprets the British parliament's refusal to participate in a US-led moves against his regime for using chemical weapons.

What matters is how Iran will interpret such international division and how it would reflect on the region, observed the columnist Tariq Al Homayed in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Tehran must have explained the international divergence over Syria, namely the confused reactions to the regime's chemical attack on civilians, as a clear sign of division within the international community, which gives it hope to boost its nuclear projects issue and to extend its power in the region, either by strengthening its hold on it or by promoting chaos.

"Tehran knows now that the region has no international coverage, at least during president Obama's term. It is aware that the matrix of alliances in the region have been weakened as a result of the so-called Arab Spring," the writer said.

Following Britain's decision, Iran must have understood that the international community isn't serious about dealing with major issues such as the use of chemical weapons and the systematic killings supported by Iran and Hizbollah in Syria.

"What does that mean for our region? How will Iran's greedy ambitions be dealt with amid such international divergence? Certainly Iran has understood the lesson clearly," he added.

Sectarian divisions in Iraq foster politics

Silence is no longer an acceptable regarding the Iraqi political reality, opined the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan in its editorial on Saturday.

The rates of crime and destruction are on the rise and are dangerously nearing their levels during US occupation.

Recent developments indicate that the effects of the Syrian crisis are pushing the country towards irreparable consequences. All concerned parties, inside and outside Iraq, seem to be anticipating the outcomes of the Syrian situation and using the opportunity to make political gains at the expense of Iraqis.

"Stoking sectarian sensitivities to preoccupy Iraqis falls under a bigger plan to disable the country's efforts to find stability," the paper observed.

The only viable way out from the sectarian quagmire is the transition to a real democracy, which necessitates that all parties accept that they are partners and that they believe in the freedom of others. Before anything else, militias must not be allowed to operate in Iraq and that violence in all its forms must be rejected.

Sectarianism in Iraq isn't a religious matter as much as it is a tool for political and personal interests. The solution can only be political, based on a consensual democratic plan aimed at building a state for all its citizens.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem

RMarakem@thenational.ae