Islamic State: David Cameron to request backing for Western airstrikes on jihadi militants from Middle East countries

Prime Minister is expected to request backing from Saudi Arabia and Qatar for military action

Nigel Morris
Sunday 07 September 2014 18:17 BST

David Cameron will this week mount a drive to win support from countries in the Middle East for air strikes on jihadi positions in Syria and northern Iraq.

In a statement to the Commons tomorrow, the Prime Minister will tell MPs that the backing of Arab nations is crucial if military and political action against Islamic State fighters is to be successful.

Britain is one of a ten-strong “core coalition” group of countries that the United States hopes will take decisive action to eradicate Isis. It was brought together at last week’s Nato summit in south Wales, by the US Secretary of State John Kerry who warned the struggle to “destroy” Isis could take three years.

But Mr Cameron, with the backing of Labour and Liberal Democrats, is pressing for a wider regional involvement in international action against the jihadists. He has said that any action must not be “Western intervention over the heads of neighbouring states”.

The Prime Minister is expected to request backing from Saudi Arabia and Qatar for military action and held talks with King Abdullah of Jordan at the Nato summit.

Mr Cameron will attend the United Nations general assembly in New York on 24 September by when he hopes to have gathered broad international backing for attacks on Isis.

The United States, which has been bombing Islamists’ positions since last month and today launched strikes near a crucial dam in Iraq, is yet to make a formal request for other countries to join military action.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, yesterday repeated that ministers had not reached the stage of deciding to take part in bombing missions, but had not ruled anything out.

He said the Government “reserves the right to take action” to stem any immediate humanitarian crisis on the ground in Iraq.

Mr Osborne told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “We absolutely need to defeat this Islamic terrorist organisation, it is a direct threat to the security of people living in Britain, as well as, of course, an enormous threat to stability in the Middle East.

“It needs to be defeated. There are already American air strikes, but they are in the context actually of a locally-led operation by the Iraqi people, by other countries in the neighbourhood, so this is very different from ten years or so ago with the Iraq war, where it was a Western invasion.”

Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State, urged President Barack Obama to launch an “all-out attack” on Isis.

He told the Sunday Times that airstrikes should be of “limited duration as a punitive measure” and “not make any distinction between Syria and Iraq”.

In a significant toughening of his stance on Isis, which has threatened to kill a British hostage, Mr Cameron last week disclosed that he believed air-strikes against its positions in Syria was legal because the UK Government did not recognise the legitimacy of President Bashar Assad.

He also announced that Britain was to start supplying lethal equipment to Kurdish forces resisting the Isis advance.

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