Tag Archives: David Cameron

RAF strikes in Iraq: analysts say Isis defeat will mean lengthy campaign | #Iraq #RAF #ISIS

Britain’s Tornado jet strikes expected to limit Islamic State advance to aid later, persistent, use of ground forces.

An RAF Tornado jet in Cyprus following air strikes against Isis in Iraq on Tuesday.An RAF Tornado jet in Cyprus following air strikes against Isis in Iraq on Tuesday. Photograph: Neil Bryden/PA

Richard Norton-Taylor reporting,

Air strikes by RAF Tornado jets are the least efficient and most expensive way to attack Isis fighters in Iraq. But they are symbolic. They are the most visible evidence of Britain joining military action against Islamic State fighters and have the greatest political impact.

David Cameron, and his foreign and defence secretaries, Philip Hammond and Michael Fallon, have been at pains to stress that bombing would not be enough to defeat Isis, and that the military campaign could last for years.

More accurate missiles and sophisticated radar and infrared night-sight technology should allow the Tornado crews to respect what Fallon has called “very strict rules of engagement, obviously to avoid civilian casualties”, though risks remain.

Yet while bombing from the air is more politically acceptable than “boots on the ground”, a long campaign risks two consequences, analysts warn – public impatience and challenges to the RAF’s resilience.

“This will be a persistent but low intensity campaign waged over a number of years,” said Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

He said a comparison could be made with the no fly zones operated by the UK and US over Iraq in the 1990s after the first Gulf war. “They were cautious, low risk, and sustained missions, designed to stabilise the situation rather than drastically change it.”

Joshi added: “I anticipate that the air strikes will become a means of halting [Islamic State’s] advance and softening up their resource base, so that local ground forces can, in due course, take them on with a greater prospect of success. Patience is the key. It is hard to see how the Iraqi army can make significant gains over the next year.”

Isis could collapse much sooner than the government suggests. But if there are no results by Christmas, then the public might, wrongly, said Joshi, assume military action had failed. That was why British ministers, and John Kerry, the US secretary of state, had stressed the long timescale, in previous campaigns not an emphasis normally.

As in any multinational war, such as Kosovo, or the first Gulf war, military strategy would be shaped by the need to keep the countries’ coalition together, analysts, including Joshi, said.

“Air strikes have to be cautious, avoiding high-risk, high-reward targets, because mistakes could compromise Arab and European military support,” he said. “This means that some targets of opportunity will be foregone, even where that comes at the cost of Iraqi army losses on the ground.”

By last weekend American aircraft had flown about 2,500 sorties and hit 270 targets, according to the Pentagon’s central command. But America’s capabilities cannot be compared to those of the UK. In the 1991 Gulf war the RAF had 30 combat squadrons; now it has seven.

The RAF’s latest fighter bombers, the Typhoons, are not equipped with Brimstone missiles, the most accurate and, say analysts, the most suitable weapon to use against Isis. So it is left to the ageing Tornados to pursue what could be a very long campaign.

And just as the campaign of air strikes over Libya in 2011 led Cameron to cancel planned cuts in Tornado squadrons then, a squadron of Tornados due to be axed in April 2015 and replaced by Typhoons, will almost certainly now be saved.

The Guardian.

ISIS reconciles with al-Qaida group as Syria air strikes continue | #IslamicState #ISIS #Syria #Iraq

Jabhat al-Nusra denounces US-led attacks as ‘war on Islam’, and leaders of group holding meetings with Islamic State.

Martin Chulov reporting,
A still from a video from a plane camera shows smoke rising after an air strike near Kobani.A still from a video from a plane camera shows smoke rising after an air strike near Kobani. Photograph: Reuters.

Air strikes continued to target Islamic State (Isis) positions near the Kurdish town of Kobani and hubs across north-east Syria on Sunday, as the terror group moved towards a new alliance with Syria’s largest al-Qaida group that could help offset the threat from the air.

Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been at odds with Isis for much of the past year, vowed retaliation for the US-led strikes, the first wave of which a week ago killed scores of its members. Many al-Nusra units in northern Syria appeared to have reconciled with the group, with which it had fought bitterly early this year.

A senior source confirmed that al-Nusra and Isis leaders were now holding war planning meetings. While no deal has yet been formalised, the addition of at least some al-Nusra numbers to Isis would strengthen the group’s ranks and extend its reach at a time when air strikes are crippling its funding sources and slowing its advances in both Syria and Iraq.

Al-Nusra, which has direct ties to al-Qaida’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called the attacks a “war on Islam” in an audio statement posted over the weekend. A senior al-Nusra figure told the Guardian that 73 members had defected to Isis last Friday alone and that scores more were planning to do so in coming days.

“We are in a long war,” al-Nusra’s spokesman, Abu Firas al-Suri, said on social media platforms. “This war will not end in months nor years, this war could last for decades.”

In the rebel-held north there is a growing resentment among Islamist units of the Syrian opposition that the strikes have done nothing to weaken the Syrian regime. “We have been calling for these sorts of attacks for three years and when they finally come they don’t help us,” said a leader from the Qatari-backed Islamic Front, which groups together Islamic brigades. “People have lost faith. And they’re angry.”British jets flew sorties over Isis positions in Iraq after being ordered into action against the group following a parliamentary vote on Friday.

David Cameron has suggested he might review his decision to confine Britain’s involvement to Iraq alone, but for now the strikes in support of Kurdish civilians and militants in Kobani were being carried out by Arab air forces from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and Bahrain.

The US was reported to have carried out at least six strikes in support of Kurdish civilians near the centre of Kobani, where the YPG, the Kurdish militia, is fighting a dogged rearguard campaign against Isis, which is mostly holding its ground despite the aerial attacks.

Kobani is the third-largest Kurdish enclave in Syria, and victory for Isis there is essential to its plans to oust the Kurds from lands where they have lived for several thousand years. Control of the area would give the group a strategic foothold in north-east Syria, which would give it easy access to north-west Iraq.

US-led forces are also believed to have carried out air strikes on three makeshift oil refineries under Isis’s control.

Isis continued to make forays along the western edge of Baghdad, where its members have been active for nine months. The Iraqi capital is being heavily defended by Shia militias, who in many cases have primacy over the Iraqi army, which surrendered the north of the country.

That rout – one of the most spectacular anywhere in modern military history – gave Isis a surge of momentum and it has since seized the border with Syria, menaced Irbil, ousted minorities from the Nineveh plains and threatened the Iraqi government’s hold on the country.

Barack Obama said the intelligence community had not appreciated the scale of the threat or comprehended the weakness of the Iraqi army. In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, he said: “Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves. And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world.”

The Guardian.

Islamic State: David Cameron warns campaign could take years | #IslamicState #ISIS #ISIL

Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven intention to attack our country and our people.

Six RAF Tornado G4 fighter-bombers based in Cyprus are on standby.Six RAF Tornado G4 fighter-bombers based in Cyprus are on standby.

Britain’s parliament has approved air strikes against Islamic State (IS) insurgents in Iraq, paving the way for the Royal Air Force to join US-led military action with immediate effect.

Six Cyprus-based Tornado GR4 fighter-bombers were on standby to take part in initial sorties after prime minister David Cameron recalled parliament from recess to back military action following a formal request from the Iraqi government.

Mr Cameron told MPs before the vote not to expect a “shock and awe” air campaign, while his office said a small number of service people could be sent to Iraq within hours of the vote to guide air strikes and, possibly, to train Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces battling IS militant forces.

The decisive 524-43 vote means Britain will embark on its first military campaign since it conducted air strikes in 2011 on behalf of Libyan rebels who toppled Moamar Gaddafi, and join an international coalition led by the United States.

Australia has sent eight F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets and 200 special forces troops to the United Arab Emirates in preparation for attacks on IS targets in Iraq.

On Friday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the jets were not sent “for merely an exercise”, adding that the Government would make further decisions “in coming days“.

While Arab countries have quickly joined the bombing campaign, Washington’s traditional Western allies had been slow to answer the call from US president Barack Obama.

France was the first European country to respond on September 19. Since Monday, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark have also announced they would dispatch warplanes

Mr Cameron was careful to secure cross-party support for strikes against IS before putting a motion before parliament.

“Is there a threat to the British people? The answer is yes,” Cameron told parliament before the vote, saying he thought action would need to last “years” to be effective.

“This is not a threat on the far side of the world.

“Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven intention to attack our country and our people.”

Britain, a staunch US ally, was quick to join military action in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago.

But a war-weary public and parliament’s rejection last year of strikes on the Syrian government prompted Mr Cameron to tread carefully this time.

Before Friday, Britain had confined itself to delivering aid, carrying out surveillance, arming Kurdish forces who are fighting IS militants, and promising training in Iraq.

But the beheading of British aid worker David Haines by an Islamic State militant with a British accent has driven home the danger the group poses to domestic security.

The fate of another Briton being held, Alan Henning, has also stirred public opinion.

UK Labour concerned about possible intervention in Syria.

Mr Cameron’s tactics dismayed some legislators in his Conservative Party who said they thought striking IS in Iraq was insufficient and wanted him to extend action to tackle militants in Syria too, something he said he wasn’t ready to do for now.

During a lively parliamentary debate, Richard Ottoway, the Conservative chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said IS was ranging at will across an unguarded border between Iraq and Syria, meaning it had to be targeted in both countries.

“We will never end this conflict by turning back at the border,” Mr Ottoway told parliament.

Mr Cameron explained he had not proposed air strikes in Syria because he realised there were concerns within the opposition Labour party about such action. Labour has said any such action would require a UN resolution on Syria.

“I do believe there is a strong case for us to do more in Syria but I did not want to bring a motion to the house today which there wasn’t consensus for,” he said.

“Of course … there are many concerns about doing more in Syria and I understand that.”

Some Conservatives harbour doubts about the efficacy of the Iraqi military and have said Mr Cameron is wrong to rule out, as he repeatedly has, deploying British ground forces.

Britain’s proposed effort is is modest compared to previous interventions.

That has prompted some Conservatives to accuse Cameron of taking only token action.

“Is he seriously contending that by air strikes alone we can actually roll back ISIL (IS), or is this gesture politics?” Edward Leigh, a Conservative lawmaker, told parliament.

Opposition leader Ed Miliband of Labour said he backed strikes against IS in Iraq, but some lawmakers in his left-leaning party made clear they were uncomfortable about the prospect of any kind of military action.

“The question is, will what the prime minister and the government is proposing, will that be effective in destroying ISIS (IS)?,” asked David Winnick, a Labour lawmaker.

“Look at what the House of Commons agreed to: Iraq, Afghanistan, in this government, Libya. None of them success stories.”

Britain has said about 500 of its citizens have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq, raising fears radicalised fighters could return to stage attacks at home.

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

David Cameron joins calls for promoting ‘British values’ in schools #MagnaCarta #BritishValues

by The Oslo Desk.
The Magna Carta 1215 - 2015A failure to promote ‘British values’ in a muscular way is allowing extremism to grow in the UK, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister revealed plans to teach all school pupils about the Magna Carta in response to allegations of extremism at schools in Birmingham. He announced last week that British values had to be put at the heart of the national curriculum.

He said in a Mail on Sunday article it was “not an option” whether or not to believe in values including “freedom, tolerance of others, accepting personal and social responsibility, respecting and upholding the rule of law”.

“We need to be far more muscular in promoting British values and the institutions that uphold them,” Cameron wrote.

Rejecting the moral relativism of some of his critics, he said: “A genuinely liberal country believes in certain values, actively promotes them and says to its citizens: this is what defines us as a society.”

He added that children from all backgrounds should be taught about the Magna Carta, claiming the document established the rule of law and paved the way for parliamentary democracy. He also repeated that his favourite book remained Our Island Story, a one-volume popular account of British history written by HE Marshall.

Cameron revealed last night that he would use events over the next year to mark the 800th anniversary of King John’s signing of the Magna Carta as the centrepiece of a fightback against extremism. Describing the document as “the foundation of all our laws and liberties”, he said: “I want to use this anniversary as an opportunity for every child to learn about the Magna Carta, for towns to commemorate it, for events to celebrate it.”

Cameron will host a reception in Downing Street on Monday to launch a year of events to commemorate the charter’s signing on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede.

In September 2012, during an appearance on the Letterman programme, Cameron was pressed on his knowledge of Magna Carta and struggled.

He correctly said the Magna Carta was signed on 1215 on an island in the Thames, but asked to give the literal translation of the name, he replied: “Again you are testing me.” Letteman replied: “Oh, it would be good if you knew this.” Cameron replied: “Yeah, well it would be.”

The prime minister was saved by a commercial break on the programme and when the show restarted Letterman told him Magna Carta literally meant “great charter”.

The commemorations of Magna Carta will mirror those marking the centenary of the first world Wwar, with school lessons, television programmes and public events combining to raise awareness.

In his article for the Mail on Sunday, Cameron said: “It’s a great document in our history – what my favourite book, Our Island Story, describes as the ‘foundation of all our laws and liberties’. In sealing it, King John had to accept his subjects were citizens – for the first time giving them rights, protections and security.

“The remaining copies of that charter may have faded, but its principles shine as brightly as ever, and they paved the way for the democracy, the equality, the respect and the laws that make Britain Britain.”

The Oslo Times.

Vladimir #Putin is ‘dragging West towards new Cold #War with illegal invasion of #Ukraine

David Cameron spoke out as Nato said Russia had sent 1,000 heavily armed troops to join separatists in a “significant escalation” in “military interference”.

By James Lyons.Prisoners: A group of Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian authorities.Prisoners: A group of Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian authorities.

David Cameron has accused Vladimir Putin of provoking the West with an illegal invasion of Ukraine.

He spoke out as Nato said Russia had sent 1,000 heavily armed troops to join separatists in a “significant escalation” in “military interference”.

One No10 insider said Russian president Putin had dragged the world “back to the Cold War”.

British troops are expected to start ­exercises in Poland for a US-led show of force to reassure Eastern European Nato countries.

And Mr Cameron will also push for fresh sanctions against Russia at an European Union meeting in Brussels on Saturday.

Loggerheads: David Cameron and Vladimir PutinLoggerheads: David Cameron and Vladimir Putin.

The Prime Minister said: “I’m extremely concerned by mounting evidence Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into South-Eastern Ukraine, completely ­disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbour.”

He also urged fellow leaders not to be fooled by Putin’s decision to take part in talks with Ukraine in Belarus.

Mr Cameron continued: “It is simply not enough to engage in talks in Minsk, while Russian tanks roll over the border into Ukraine.

“Such activity must cease immediately.”

But rebel leader ­Alexander ­Zakharchenko bizarrely insisted the Kremlin forces were on leave.

Shelled: Workers try to repair the gate of a bakery damaged during shellingShelled: Workers try to repair the gate of a bakery damaged during shelling.

He declared: “Among us are fighting, serving soldiers who would rather take their vacation, not on a beach, but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom.”

The UN ­Security Council held an emergency session to discuss the crisis.

But as Russia has a permanent seat, there was no prospect of the invasion being condemned.

Meanwhile, 15 civilians were killed as Ukraine troops shelled Donetsk, it was reported.

Today, Vladimir Putin snubbed a traditional greeting of bread and salt on his visit to Minsk because he feared assassination by poisoning, sources claimed.

Mirror Online.