Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain must prevent Islamic State terrorism from reaching the U.K. as he lays the groundwork to take more action in the Middle East.
“If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph today. “We need a firm security response, whether that is military action to go after the terrorists, international cooperation on intelligence and counter-terrorism or uncompromising action against terrorists at home.”
Britain should lead a diplomatic effort with nations in the Middle East, potentially including Iran, and should rally international support at a NATO meeting in Wales and at the United Nations in New York to battle extremism, according to the prime minister. The U.K. will also appoint a special representative to the Kurdistan Regional Government, he wrote.
“We should avoid sending armies to fight or occupy,” he wrote. However, “true security will only be achieved if we use all our resources -- aid, diplomacy, our military prowess -- to help bring about a more stable world.”
While the U.K. has so far avoided engaging in military action, the U.S. has conducted airstrikes in aid of thousands of Yezidis and Christians fleeing Islamic State in northern Iraq. European Union governments including Germany on Aug. 15 cleared the way for arming Kurdish fighters against the militants following an emergency meeting in Brussels of the 28 EU foreign ministers.
Cameron wrote today that the U.K. is now identifying what equipment, such as body armor or counter-explosive equipment, it will send directly to Kurdish forces. He said he told Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi that Britain will support any “genuinely inclusive government” against Islamic State.
“Our first priority has of course been to deal with the acute humanitarian crisis in Iraq,” he wrote. “But a humanitarian response alone is not enough. We also need a broader political, diplomatic and security response.”
He also said he spoke with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and that people flying Islamic State flags or trying to recruit for Islamic State will be arrested and their materials seized.
Islamic State presents “a clear danger to Europe and to our security,” he wrote. Were it to succeed with plans to expand into Jordan and Lebanon, close to the Turkish border, “we would be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member.”
Extremist threats in the region and across the world, that include Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, the Taliban and al-Qaeda, “cannot simply be removed by airstrikes alone,” he wrote. “We need a tough, intelligent and patient long-term approach that can defeat the terrorist threat at source.”
The battle against ideological extremism will last “for the rest of my political lifetime,” he said.