Anti-IS coalition confirms Iraq military aid
Source: Bloomberg News , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Mon September 15, 2014 3:32 pm

INTERNATIONAL. U.S. allies signaled their readiness to step up the fight against Islamic State under a coalition formed by President Barack Obama as the beheading of a British aid worker sparked further outrage.

At a meeting in Paris, 25 countries and Iraq signed a statement saying they’re “committed to supporting the new Iraqi government in its fight, by any means necessary, including appropriate military assistance,” without pledging any concrete new measures.

While no Arab nations have publicly committed to military action, several have told the U.S. privately they’re willing to join in airstrikes in Iraq and in Syria, said a U.S. State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron vowed yesterday to confront the militants with “iron determination” and France said today it’s started surveillance flights over Iraq.

The U.S. intends to intensify airstrikes on the militants in coordination with the Iraqi government, according to a second State Department official who spoke anonymously under government rules. Obama is considering extending the attacks, now limited to Iraq, to Islamic State bases, leaders and supply lines in neighboring Syria.

“It is a global threat so we need a global response,” French President Francois Hollande said as he opened the conference bringing together the European and Middle Eastern wings of the anti-Islamic State coalition. He said the response involved military support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces, political support for the new Iraqi government, humanitarian aid for displaced people and stepped-up efforts to prevent the flow of fighters and money to the Islamic State.

British Hostages

The meeting followed the beheading by Islamic State of third foreign hostage, David Haines, in a bid to force the U.K - - a key member of the coalition -- to abandon the fight against Islamic State. The group threatens to kill another British hostage, identified yesterday as aid worker Alan Henning. The father of two, from the Manchester area, was kidnapped at the end of last year after entering Syria from Turkey, the local Bolton News reported.

Cameron said yesterday the U.K. will take “whatever steps are necessary” to confront the militants. His spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, told reporters in London today that “the government will not change its approach one iota in response to the acts of barbarity that are perpetrated” by Islamic State.

Coalition ‘Agenda’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wasn’t represented at the talks, said the coalition’s efforts are “pointless,” “superficial,” and driven by “an agenda.” France had wanted to invite Iranian officials to the talks, but the move was vetoed by the U.S., according to a French official who asked not to be named in line with government policy.

So far, the U.S. is the only foreign country carrying out airstrikes against the group in Iraq. During Hollande’s visit to Baghdad last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said he was told that France “will take part in striking terror locations.”

France started reconnaissance flights today from its airbase in Abu Dhabi, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced. France, Britain, Italy and Germany are delivering weapons to Kurdish and Iraqi government forces.

More than 40 nations have committed to military and non-military actions as part of the coalition, according to U.S. officials.

“We have countries in this region, countries outside of this region in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes if that is what it requires,” Kerry said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday his country would deploy 400 air force personnel and 200 special forces soldiers to a U.S. military base in the United Arab Emirates along with fighter jets, an early-warning-and-control aircraft and an aerial refueling aircraft.

One source of tension may be Russia’s objection that the U.S. and Arab agenda also includes increasing efforts to defeat Moscow ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, where the three-year civil war has drawn jihadist fighters from around the world to Islamic State. Russia is also at loggerheads with the U.S. and Europe over its involvement in the pro-Kremlin uprising in eastern Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a statement after the meeting asking that “disputes” not interfere with the common struggle against Islamic State and saying he “could not but be alarmed” by talk of airstrikes in Syria without the agreement of Assad’s government.

“We together face the same enemy in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere and there is no room for double standards,” Lavrov said.

The diplomatic action now moves to the United Nations, where Obama plans on Sept. 24 to seek a Security Council resolution requiring governments to craft regulations and laws to thwart the flow of foreign fighters to militant groups such as the Islamic State.

© 2014 Bloomberg

 

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