Syria: World’s press shows surprise at decision

Picture: BBC Parliament/PA Wire
Picture: BBC Parliament/PA Wire
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THE news that Britain would not be taking part in any military intervention in Syria after David Cameron’s defeat attracted widespread coverage in the international press yesterday.

The front page headline in the New York Daily News said: “The British Aren’t Coming”, in reference to the famous warning from the American revolutionary, Paul Revere, in 1775.

The newspaper said the “biggest blow” to the US proposed military response had been dealt by the “normally reliable Brits”.

It said the Commons vote rejecting military intervention in Syria had “stunned” President Obama and that the US-led coalition against the Syrian regime had “splintered”.

The Washington Post referred to “Britain’s sudden withdrawal” from Obama’s planned strike against Syria.

It said that Mr Cameron had been “deserted by rebels” in his own party and that the vote against intervention was heavily influenced by the last Iraq war in 2003. However, it reported the Obama administration had insisted the president still had “both the authority and the determination to make his own decision on a military strike against Syria”.

Meanwhile, the French daily Le Monde carried an interview with president Francois Hollande who pledged to remain part of the US-led coalition and said: “The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished.”

Asked if France could take action without Britain, he replied: “Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France.”

The Irish Times talked about an “unprecedented” and “humiliating” reverse for Mr Cameron, whose authority and international standing had been “dealt a severe blow”.

A report in the paper said Mr Cameron had presided over a “failure to master domestic British politics”. There was also comment about the influence of the last Iraq war in 2003 on the outcome of the Commons vote.

The headline in the Sydney Morning Herald read: “Britain rejects Syria military action”, with a story that said the vote, “banishes the prospect of British involvement in any imminent US-led attack on Syria”. The Australian said the “shadow of Tony Blair’s 2003 decision to join the invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein hung over the debate” in the run up to the vote against intervention.

The New Zealand Herald reported on a “stunning defeat” that was as “dramatic as it was unexpected” for Mr Cameron in the Commons.

It said the decision would effectively “guarantee that Britain plays no direct role in any US attack on Bashar Assad’s government”.