The House of Commons Library is supposed to provide completely "impartial advice and analysis" to Members of the UK Parliament and their staff. The least that one can say is that this debriefing on the crisis in Syria after 12 months of unrest is somewhat general and vague.

After examining the different types of sanctions inflicted on Syria, the report observes that no external intervention is possible because of Russia’s and China’s adamancy to abide by international law at the Security Council and Syria’s capacity to militarily enforce the sovereignty of its territory.

While acknowledging that the information is difficult to verify, the report embraces the view commonly prevailing in the media and among Western foreign offices and the Gulf States regarding the situation on the ground, and the tone is even more restrained when it comes to addressing the possible actions to be envisaged.

The Kingdom will content itself with sending food aid to the population and supporting the rehabilitation of certain public infrastructure that was damaged, including the distribution of drinking water.

Remaining particularly vague and based on articles picked at random rather than on intelligence reports, the HCL report leaves one to imagine that Great Britain is feigning belief in NATO’s version, but that she is actually convinced it is urgent to wait and move on to another case.

This report is moreover an excellent snapshot, consensual and politically correct, of the dominant official view among politicians and the media of the aligned countries, constituting a far cry from ground reality.

"The Syrian crisis one year on," by Ben Smith, The House of Commons Library, 23 March 2012 (13 pp., 205 Ko).