The UK must share responsibility for the mass atrocities in Syria, MPs on the foreign affairs committee will claim as they call for the government to launch an independent inquiry into the price of Britain’s inaction in Syria.
The committee says the price of non-intervention in theseven-year civil war has been unacceptably high in terms of lost lives, increased Russian and Iranian influence and severe consequences for Europe.
The call for an inquiry comes in a report issued on Monday, as Russiaprepares a major offensive in the last rebel enlcave of Idlib.
The idea of a Chilcot-style inquiry has already been rejected by the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in a letter to the committee in which he argued that the reasons for the UK’s non-intervention were well documented.
But the report urges the government to clarify its approach to the UN doctrine of the responsibility to protect, arguing: “While the cost, complexities and challenges of intervening have been well documented through previous inquiries, such as the Iraq inquiry, the consequences of not acting are less well understood. We believe that the consequences of inaction can be every bit as serious as intervening. The decision not to intervene in Syria has had very real consequences for Syrians, their neighbours, the UK and our allies.”
MPs in 2013 voted not to back military action after Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in eastern Damascus. The vote contributed to Barack Obama’s decision to hold back from enforcing his red line on the use of chemical weapons.
But the MPs say an inquiry needs to examine more than the circumstances of the Commons vote in August 2013 and to look more broadly into the devastating consequences of the international community’s failure to act both for Syrian refugees, chemical weapons use, the politics of the Middle East and relations between Russia and the west, including at UN security council.