Photographer: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP via Getty Images

U.K. Needs ‘Grand Strategy’ to Beat Islamic State, Lawmakers Say

  • Panel warns of potential for terrorist group to move elsewhere
  • Lawmaker says ‘no shortage’ of dangerous Islamist groupings

The U.K. and its allies need a “grand strategy” to defeat Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and beyond, a panel of lawmakers said, warning that military progress alone won’t be enough in the battle against extremists.

U.K. fighter jets have carried out airstrikes on Islamic State, also known as Daesh, in Iraq since September 2014 and in Syria since December 2015. The strategy of Western air power combined with local ground troops is reliant also on political progress, Parliament’s cross-party Defence Committee said Wednesday in a report. It urged the government to develop a wider strategy to tackle Islamic State beyond the two Middle Eastern nations.

“Assuming Daesh is squeezed out of both countries, we have to focus too on what happens next, both in other countries to which Daesh may migrate, and in Syria,” Committee Chairman Julian Lewis said in a statement. In Syria, “there is no shortage of other Islamist groups, just as dangerous, which are planning to take control.”

At the weekend, U.S.-led coalition planes struck a Syrian army base, killing 62 soldiers and wounding more than 100 more. After the U.K. acknowledged involvement in the strikes, Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday Britain would “never intentionally strike or focus on Syrian forces.”

The military effort in Iraq is “bearing fruit,” while success in Syria is “much less certain,” according to the committee. It warned of the potential for Islamic State to become an international movement or a network of affiliated groups, as al-Qaeda did.

“Our counter-Daesh strategy should be as effective in Nigeria, Afghanistan or Libya as it is in Iraq or Syria,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is therefore vital that a grand strategy is developed which addresses the threat posed by Daesh, in all its forms.”

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