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Britain’s military involvement in Iraq is becoming increasingly confusing

11 August 2014

What is the extent of British involvement in Iraq? Philip Hammond today said it was simply to provide humanitarian assistance, but the suggestion that ministers could send Tornado jets to help with the relief operation has confused some. Even though sources have told the BBC that the jets will not be involved in air strikes, Jack Straw has immediately read the report as a sign that the UK could be heading towards ‘more active intervention’. He told ITV:

‘That’s a start. If you’re going to have more active intervention with aeroplanes striking at ISIS columns or drones, you need a lot of intelligence and the next stage is to send Tornados. I’m actually pleased to hear that because Tornados are not machines that can deliver humanitarian assistance.’

What Straw is highlighting here is that it isn’t entirely clear what the extent of UK involvement in the action in Iraq could be. This is one reason why a recall of Parliament could be necessary, so that MPs can scrutinise the true extent of the involvement.

Nick de Bois and David Burrowes set out another reason in their letter to the Prime Minister calling for a recall of Parliament. They argue in their letter, which you can read in full here, that the crisis should be ‘properly debated with a view to the government being able to seek guidance from and support of the House for policies aimed at ending the killing’. They add that ‘it is vital that the House of Commons debate an appropriate response to this emergency’ and that the ‘voice of Parliament should be heard’ on the situation in Gaza.

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Number 10 and Hammond argue that the threshold for recall, which is committing any British troops into any kind of combat role, has not been crossed. But there seems to be increasing confusion about that, which will only increase the pressure for a recall.


Number 10 has now explained a little more the role that Tornado jets will play in Iraq, with a spokesperson saying:

‘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.’

Today’s COBR meeting, chaired by Philip Hammond, focused on three objectives, according to Downing Street:

  • ‘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.’

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Show comments
  • evad666

    Former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said sending the jets was a
    “step in the right direction” but urged the government to look at what
    further military assistance could be provided.

    “One way or another, these maniacs, these medieval maniacs in
    the so-called Islamic State have got to be defeated,” he told ITV News.

    A shocking statement by a former minister in a government which bent over backwards to facilitate the easy entry and radicalization of so many UK individuals in the name of Political Correctness and Multiculturalism.
    I am sure more mosques are required in the Cotswold Jack.

  • WinstonCDN

    Obama abandoned Iraqi peoples to the wolves

  • The Masked Marvel

    No need to be confused any longer, Isabel. Obama has just called for regime change.

    The Lightworker will bring peace in our time, and Dave will follow like a good poodle. If successful, Obama’s record will be 2 for 4 in forcing regime change in Muslim lands. Makes Bush look like a piker. Rod Liddle and thousands of his former colleagues at the BBC will have to hate Obama now, but I think we can all live with that.

  • BoiledCabbage

    Why have excellent ground-attack jets been re-designated as ‘humanitarian’ assets? Have we become so scared of the muslim vote that we are now paralysed?

    Of course, excellent news that Cameron is now expert at choosing shellfish in Portugese markets. Lets hope he also has the skills to determine jellyfish from vertebrates.

    • evad666

      These assets should be assigned the title of infrastructure renewal assets to make their role more acceptable to the SWP and UAF or as the latter should be known Unite for Facism.

  • Mynydd

    Will these Tornado jets be over flying the beaches in Portugal looking the Prime Minister?

    • Lemmingtrain

      So now they need the Tornado GR4 – such a shame that 12 Sqdn, 13 Sqdn, 14 Sqdn and 617 Sqdn have all been disbanded recently by the very same politicians who now want to use them. This will put a lot of pressure on the remaining three squadrons – 1 is fully in Herrick, 1 is prepping to go to Herrick, one has not long returned from Herrick and is due to disband.

  • HookesLaw

    You would think Ms Hardman would thank the government for educating her on the practicalities of these operations. More research (I know a dirty word for journalists) might have left her less confused than she normally is.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Bombing murderers is the best form of humanitarian relief.

  • dado_trunking

    Phil Hammond turns out to be German. I love it!

    • swatnan

      About time we had a Defence Sec that’s done a bit of soldiering in their time, and knows what they’re taking about, instead of the wimpy pen pushers we usually get lumbered with. I think the last one must have been Arthur Wellesley.

      • Tim

        Churchill was his own Defence Secretary

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …yes, you islamofascist snugglers love you some 30’s-style Germans, don’t you?

    • evad666

      Ha so ve hav vays of dizmantling your forces so ve can more easily azzimilate you.

  • Span Ows

    ISIS aren’t using human shields so why not targeted heavy bombardment of their camps and arms, I have no doubt ‘we’ know where they are. Lance this festering pustule while we can…saving any trouble from returning Jihadists too.

    • Frank


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