President Obama on Thursday faced possibility of launching unilateral action against Syria after British lawmakers on voted against military intervention in a major setback for both British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Obama administration in their push to punish the Assad regime for an alleged chemical weapons strike.
Cameron, who has been aligned with President Obama in advocating a tough response, indicated after the vote that he would abide by the outcome. The measure was narrowly defeated, by 285 votes to 272 votes.
The outcome raises serious questions for Obama, who has not yet made a decision on the way forward in Syria but had indicated his administration would need international support for any strike. After failing to win support for an anti-Assad resolution before the U.N. Security Council, U.S. officials were looking to allies like Britain and France to build a coalition for action in Syria.
The White House said after the vote that it would continue to assess its options on Syria.
"The U.S. will continue to consult with the U.K. 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," said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference Friday in Manila, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Obama administration was consulting with allies to "further develop the facts" about last week's alleged chemical weapons attack.
These are nervous times in the Gulf region. But they are not without hope. The interim nuclear deal struck by six major world powers and Iran last month could be the first step toward a new-- and less contentious-- regional landscape. But many Arab leaders worry Iran has simply bought itself time and a breather. They accuse Iran of meddling in their countries and stirring sectarian strife, and fear the Islamic Republic’s activities won’t diminish now that some of the pressure long put upon it has eased.