Twenty-six nations, including Russia, China and 10 Arab states, pledged yesterday to fight the terrorist group Isis “by any means necessary”.
At the end of an international conference in Paris the countries promised to give “military assistance” to Iraq if requested but the meeting threw little light on which Arab countries, if any, were prepared to join the US and possibly France and Britain in air strikes on militant targets. The final statement also failed to address the question of what action should be taken against Isis, which styles itself the Islamic State.
The conference was significant mostly for providing a visible and broad base for the coalition Washington is seeking to build against the lavishly funded and ruthless extremists who have created a cross-border state in parts of Syria and the northern third of Iraq. A further meeting will be held shortly to discuss ways of cutting the flow of funds to Isis.
The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said the conference, called by president François Hollande, was a “meeting of extreme gravity but also a meeting which offered hope”. He said the disparate participants – including Britain, the US, Turkey, Canada and Japan – had “all said we are working together to fight Da’esh [the Arabic name for Isis].”
Video: Paris conference calls on united action against Isis
“The throat-slitters of Da’esh – that’s what I call them – tell the whole world, ‘Either you’re with us or we kill you’. When confronted with such a group, you can only defend yourself,” Mr Fabius said.
A dozen more states, which were not represented at ministerial level, are said to be ready to join the coalition by cutting off sources of funding and recruits for Isis. The notable absentee was Iran, whose presence was blocked by Saudi Arabia and the US.
Uncertainty still surrounds the role of Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are thought to have funded Islamist radical groups in Syria before Isis emerged as a baleful new force. French officials said the Saudi and Qatari signatures on yesterday’s agreement gave new proof that the two were now fully committed to defeating Isis.Reuse content