Barack Obama’s decision not to launch air strikes against Syria last year was influenced by the shock vote in the British parliament against military intervention in the region, according to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to Jeremy Paxman on Thursday’s Newsnight, the likely Democratic presidential candidate said, “I’m sure that influenced it,” when asked about Washington’s ultimate decision not to use military force against the Assad regime.
“That vote was a few days prior to the president having to make a final decision. There was a series of votes as I recall and the individual votes were defeated but if you’d added up all the votes for everything that would have been a positive you could have gotten to that but for all types of reasons – and I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies of British parliamentary procedure – it was a defeat for the idea that there should have been intervention.”
“And that influenced the American decision not to intervene?” asked Paxman. “I believe it did. I was out of office by then but it’s my understanding that it was certainly taken into account."
During the debate on whether to intervene in Syria Clinton did advocate for military action, however the president ultimately overruled her, "in part because of the lessons from Iraq,” she said.
“It’s hard to get a little bit pregnant, so to speak, in getting involved in these countries, in internal conflicts, but I did think there was a potential role [for the US military], but now what I say in my book was a wicked problem has become wickeder.”
The coalition government lost the Commons vote on the motion to support military intervention in Syria after a fraught parliamentary debate in August last year. The motion was defeated by 285 to 272 - a majority of 13.
Following the announcement, David Cameron said it was clear Parliament "does not want to see British military action" in Syria after the Government was defeated on the issue, adding: "I get that, and the Government will act accordingly."
During a rancorous debate, Ed Miliband was accused of giving “succour” to the Assad regime following his refusal to back the government’s push on authorising use of force.
In recent months the on-going crisis in Syria has spilled over into Iraq, with the al-Qaeda jihadist insurgents "The Islamic State of Iraq in Syria" (ISIS) capturing the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, the group already controlling vast swathes of land from Aleppo to Fallujah.