The Foreign Secretary chaired a COBR this morning on the latest situation in Iraq. He was joined by the Defence Secretary, DFID Minister Desmond Swayne, officials from across Whitehall and representatives of the agencies.
Our response is focused on 3 objectives:
- alleviating the humanitarian suffering of those Iraqis targeted by ISIL terrorists
- promoting an inclusive, sovereign and democratic Iraq that can push back on ISIL advances and restore stability and security across the country
- working with the international community to tackle the broader threat that ISIL poses to the region and other countries around the world
The immediate priority remains the humanitarian situation, particularly for those trapped on Mount Sinjar. As part of the £8 million aid we have committed to Iraq, we intend to deliver further aid drops in the coming days and we will be working closely with Iraqi, Kurdish and international representatives in the area to mitigate safety concerns which forced the RAF crew to abort last night’s planned delivery. The challenge of getting aid safely to those on the mountain reinforces the need for a long term solution that gets these people to safety. We continue to work with international partners on options for doing this, including how we can develop a better picture of the number of peoples on the mountain and their exact locations.
As part of that work, we have decided to pre-position a small number of Tornados in the region so that they could, if required, use their excellent surveillance capability to gather better situational awareness to help with humanitarian effort. This would be similar to the role the Tornado played in the UK earlier this year, gathering information on the areas affected by the severe floods.
Establishing an inclusive government in Iraq that can unite all Iraqi communities against the threat posed by ISIL remains vitally important. The Foreign Secretary called President Massoum yesterday evening to encourage the formation of an inclusive government as swiftly as possible and to encourage greater co-operation between Iraqi and Kurdish forces. And we welcome this afternoon’s news that President Massoum has nominated Dr Haider Al-Abadi.
At COBR, it was agreed that we should look at how the UK could play a role, alongside others, in getting equipment to Kurdish forces so they are better able to counter ISIL forces and critically so that they can continue to protect the large number of displaced persons who are seeking safety in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Finally, we continue to lead efforts at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a strong international response to the broader threat posed by ISIL terrorists. We have proposed a UNSC resolution to disrupt ISIL’s financing flows; to sanction those who are seeking to recruit to ISIL; and to encourage countries to do all they can to prevent foreign fighters joining ISIL. We will press for substantive negotiations on this resolution this week.