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This is BBC World News Today. I'm Tim Willcox.
Tonight - the British parliament overwhelmingly approves air strikes
524 four yes, the noses, 43. The eyes have it. Faced unchecked, we
will have a caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean, with a proven
determination to attack our country and our people.
Meanwhile the US-led coalition continues to
He was last seen in public three weeks ago - now North Korea has
Former British Prime Minister, Middle East envoy and now -
The emergency debate in the Commons was passionate and lasted six
But this evening, after a huge majority of MPs voted in favour,
RAF fighter jets are poised to join the US-led coalition in striking
They could attack as early as tonight.
It will be the first time British bombs have been dropped in Iraq
Britain will become the latest to join the US lead
coalition against Islamic State militants - but only in Iraq.
Parliament will require another vote if they decide to strike in Syria.
The Danish government announced it was sending seven F-16 fighter
But, like Britain, they have also only committed to
France carried out its first attack on Iraq a week ago,
targeting IS positions near Mosul, while several other countries,
like Australia, the Netherlands and Belgium, are also giving
Meanwhile in Syria, the US-led coalition, supported
by Arab states, continues to bombard IS targets, with Saudi Arabia
and the Emirates each sending four F-16s into Syria earlier this week.
The latest US air strike in eastern Syria.
The target - a series of small oil refineries.
The goal - to choke off a vital source of funding for Islamic State.
Denmark announced its offer to give seven jets to join
Last evening, we received a formal request from
the United States for Danish fighter jets to take part in the fight
The government is of the view that it should meet that demand.
The government is therefore prepared to quickly send seven jets to
The Danish fighter jets will be active in the airspace over Iraq,
This shows the steady increase in countries lining up
In recent days, Belgium and the Netherlands have
A vote in the British Parliament has now given the green light for six
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 determination to attack our country and our people.
This is not the stuff of fantasy, it is happening in front of us
These national contributions are small, but nonetheless significant,
The key success of the US-led coalition is to have many Arab
states as active participants, but Western military contributions
are also vital, with France and Australia already on board.
So far, despite much misleading commentary in the press, this is a
The numbers of aircraft involved is not huge.
But the problem for the coalition is to sustain this activity over time.
This campaign against Islamic State could potentially go on for years.
Each country's contribution, leaving aside the Americans,
may be small, but together, they make up a force that could continue
Our political correspondent Rob Watson is live outside Westminster.
A huge majority in favour of the strikes in Iraq, but a different
matter if the matter was put forward about Syria. Absolutely, and the
Prime Minister went out of his way to be quite starkly open to say, if
it was up to me, I wouldn't rule out using UK aeroplanes over Syria, but
he said what was important now was a political consensus. A year ago he,
he suffered a defeat over UK action in Syria, and he won't let that
happen again, so he has gone for safety first. Passionate voices from
some about why America, France and Britain shouldn't get involved in a
rocket again. How much discussion was there about the exit strategy
here and mission creep? There was discussion about all of these
things. If you take this spectrum about this, on one hand, there were
plenty of MPs saying, oh my goodness, here we go again. On the
other end of the spectrum, people who support the use of air strikes
in Iraq, but still say, look, we need something more comprehensive,
something better thought out, there will have to be political
improvement in both Iraq and Syria, otherwise air strikes on their own
simply won't work. On that point, boots on the ground, everyone talked
about that. They want to local forces to take on IS, but that will
take months if not years to get them equipped with the right military
hardware to take them on, wanted? Yes, two points there. The
reluctance of Britain to put boots on the ground is not just because of
political difficulties, they just generally think it would not be a
good idea, one of the lessons from 2003. That we do want to the problem
of, you will fill any vacuum left in a rack and in Syria if it Islamic
State are dislodged? Even in a rack, that looks like a hard sell. It has
been difficult to get the Iraqi forces to stand up, but in Syria, it
looks like an even harder sell with no prospect insight of some kind of
logical settlement there. Thank you. Well,
on the ground in Iraq and in Syria, thousands of refugees continue to
flee Islamic State forces. Many have described the beheading
of captives, the torching of homes and the widespread use
of rape by IS fighters. In the Iraqi capital,
Shia leaders are recruiting local people to fight back, and say they
don't need help from the West. The Iraqi government, though,
insists that outside Our chief international
correspondent Lyse Doucet sent this Britain is joining
an air campaign that has already gone on for six weeks.
It hasn't gone on for six weeks.
on the streets of Baghdad. It hasn't stopped the funerals.
This family mourns for a family member.
He died in a battle against Islamic State fighters just south
of the capital. Every death breeds defiance.
Now all these women tell me they are ready to fight.
So are these men. We get rare access to it
powerful militia brigade. It fight in Iraq and Syria.
This is how their leader has to travel.
He is now recruiting more fighters, Shi'ite and Sunni, to take
on this new threat and says Iraq doesn't need help from the West.
America has proven it always comes to us with the face of the saviour.
It hides in front of the people the ugly face of an invader.
And what about Britain? We see that the British are
the obedient slaves for America. In Iraq, the militias operated
separately from the national army and police. That means a lot of
checkpoints across Baghdad, but is still not stopping the violence.
These Iraqis know that between 15 or 20 mortars landed in this area in
the last week, a massive car bomb exploded at a checkpoint just behind
us. They have lived with danger for many years, and now this threat
posed by anti-Shiite group calling itself Islamic State makes their
faith even stronger. But in their fervor is no match
militarily for this new enemy. That is why the Government has asked the
world to help, including Britain. We do need the United Kingdom here
because the United Kingdom has a long history and a rack, they
understand a very well, and they understand the region very well.
They have the expertise. -- Iraq. This war will be won or lost, not in
the air, but on the ground. Let's go to Irbil in Northern Iraq
and speak to Clive Myrie. How has the British vote there been
greeted today, and is there an understanding that air power alone
won't be enough? Yes, to the first point of your
question, it was greeted with relief, it has to be said, and the
delight. There is no doubt that certainly as far as the Kurdish
person murder forces are concerned, who have been fighting and taking on
the forces of the Islamic State for the last few weeks and months, air
power has helped them overrun the Kurdish area here in northern Iraq
and take the capital of the independent region here in the
country. They are very grateful, frankly, the regional Government
here that there is another important Western power that will be taking
parts in targeting Islamic State positions in Iraq. At the same time,
the Peshmerga, the military here, and know that it is a battle that
will only really be won on the ground militarily, it is not just
going to be the result of air power alone, and as a result, they
continue to make that call to Western nations to arm them with
more sophisticated heavy weaponry so they can have an equal fight on the
ground with the force of some 20,000, 30,000 fighters who were
funded to the tune of millions of dollars a day to criminal
activities, that gives them access to heavy weaponry and machinery that
could make this a more equal fight. Presumably, there is no purely
military solution here, there needs to be a political solution, bearing
in mind what happened before in 2008, 2009 when America convinced
the local people to rise up against Al-Qaeda. Is there any indication
that those overtures are being met with any success? It is early days.
It is very early days. What you have to be able to provide for those of
Sunni tribes in the different provinces, the central belt of Iraq,
which is predominantly Sunni and has been taken over by Islamic State,
where they found a for title audience for their creed, because
those Sunnis felt disenfranchised in this country after the invasion in
2003, they have to be given an alternative to turn their backs on
Islamic State in the same way they turned their backs on Al-Qaeda in
2007 and 2008. That will stem from a much more inclusive Government in
Iraq. The Prime Minister Alla body -- the Prime Minister here says he
will give greater representation for the Government, and they could be
part of the future for the country. Once that is established, the list
can be pushed out to the Sunni community, after saying they have a
future in the country and therefore should turn their backs on the
extremist that came through Syria from the North.
Jonathan Russell, of the Quilliam Foundation, is with me now. Thank
you for joining us. Just looking at the vote in the Commons today, is it
pretty clear that this is the first of several stages, and that mission
creep really is inevitable average well, mission creep seems to be
designed into the Government's strategy. It is pretty obvious that
from the statements both made by the Prime Minister and by the many MPs
who were supporting him that the question about the border between
Iraq and Syria, which is virtually nonexistent, controlled by ISIS, is
an artificial border. And so, I think that also we have heard from
various MPs that the legal impediments are there, there are
sufficient legal covers which would allow us. So I think the Prime
Minister almost revealed the fact that he has only come to the House
because all he felt confident of getting was support for Iraq at this
stage, but that in due course, the possibility of strikes over Syrian
territory would be considered. And again, this debate about boots on
the ground will probably start raging now. It may result in a
request for some limited ground Force assistance as well. Presumably
there are special forces already on the ground anyway? Well, yes. Of
course, the British devilment, as a matter of policy, does not comment
on special operations, so we could assume that that may well have
happened, and certainly could happen in the future. In terms of the force
and potency of Islamic State, which is not a regular army, what are the
dangers of radicalising them yet further? I think we have got to be
aware of that danger, when we do engage in military. There are
various things that can prevent that. Having Arab states in this
international military coalition is one important way of doing that.
Should there be boots on the ground, it is important that they are Sunni
Muslim troops initially as well. But also, we should remember that the UN
has a role. Very underreported was a resolution from the Security Council
yesterday in flooring all of its member states, and passed
unanimously, I might add, to redouble their efforts to prevent
foreign fighters joining Islamic State. But individual countries have
done that, haven't they? I think we have got a grass now showing the
countries who have been providing fighters for Islamic State. Dr
Ashraf, first of all, the largest contributor is Tunisia. Now, is that
a surprise? Yes, this is something which the King's College centre has
done, and it has been out on the streets, this information, for a few
days. It is believed to be because of a combination of factors,
political unrest, also economic depression. There is not a great
deal but a lot of these young people can do, apart from join
organisations such as this. The rest of the other countries seem to map
areas where there is a combination of economic downturn as well as
political instability. What binds fighters from all of these 70
countries is the adherence to an ideology, and a belief in the
narrative of Islamic State, and other similar organisations. So it
is surely only by tackling this ideology at its root that we can
have any effect of stemming the flow of fighters to the Islamic State.
Just tell us a bit more about the philosophy of Islamic State, we are
all aware of the brutality, but this idea of trying to create a society,
people like plumbers and teachers and suchlike? The idea comes from
the idea of political Islam, which started about 100 years ago. This
particular branch is a subset, a violent Islamist strand, which was
personified through Al-Qaeda's ideology. Ultimately, there is no
ideological or theological difference between Al-Qaeda and ISIS
it is a political and strategic difference, humming down to the fact
that these people are primarily political. The religious overtones
are just there for identity purposes, but the reason they kill
each other, Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been killing each other, and the
reason is purely political, because they have not a single difference
theological or ideological. These are political movements, they have a
lot more in common with the fascist and communist movements of the
beginning of the last century than they do with old religious
movements. Finally, are we looking at Gulf War three? It certainly
looks like it, but we can learn the lessons of the first and second Gulf
War. Can we? Yes, I think we can. I think the key difference is having
Sunni Muslim countries in this coalition, and by thinking about the
long-term problems of Islamic State as an idea, rather than as an
organisation. So, more needs to be done to persuade Qatar and Saudi
Arabia to stop the funding as well? That is one point which came out of
the debate. Whether it is true that those countries are funding is
irrelevant. What is true is that people believe that they have been
supporting extremists. That point was made very powerfully today in
the Commons, and they will have to respond to it.
Now, where is the supremely dumb? That is the question on the Korean
peninsula, after the disappearance of North Korea's leader, Kim
Jong-un. He has been missing for a few weeks. It has prompted a flurry
of speculation in South Korea about his health. Now, the north has
admitted he is suffering from an uncomfortable physical condition.
This report from Sol town. It is the empty chair which is significant.
This is the supreme meeting of the rulers of North Korea minus the
supreme ruler of them all. It is the first time since Kim Jong-un
inherited power from his father three years ago that he has not been
present. The North Korean authorities said he was feeling
discomfort. How serious an admission of ill-health that is remains
unclear. It is more than three weeks since he last appeared in public,
with a limp. Kim Jong-un has been a thorn in the side of the West, as
North Korea develops nuclear weapons, and the missiles to deliver
them. He rules an isolated country squeezed by sanctions. In a way, he
dominates the life of the people here in South Korea, issuing
bloodcurdling threats. He is developing nuclear weapons, aimed at
this country and that the United States, so this place buzzes with
speculation. Having said all that, not too much should be made of that
speculation. After all, he vanished from public view for two weeks last
year. Kim Jong-un is not a man who shuns publicity. He usually travels
the land he rules with cameras nearby. Here's a to be feared. Last
year, his uncle and political mentor was executed. The official statement
from North Korea about his illness says he continues as leader. But it
must raise questions about the seriousness of the illness and his
ability to continue. One of Britain's leading
publications for the gay community is publishing a list of the top gay
icons over the past three decades. Some probably do not surprise you,
the likes of Boy George and Barbra Streisand. But one man on the list
might - Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister. The obvious question is
why? Let's have a look at Tony Blair's reaction to the accolade. It
is something I am very proud of, he said. I consider it a significant
part of my legacy. I disliked the hypocrisy where people had to
conceal their own identity. We can discuss this now with somebody from
the Daytimes. I think you said today that you do not need to be gay to be
a gay icon. What has he done for the gay community? When you look back,
you have got things like the equal age of consent, the repeal of
section 28, being able to be openly gay in the Army, protection in the
workplace, and his biggest introduction, civil partnerships, it
was introduced ten years ago in October. That is what his interview
was really to mark. Is this the choice of the publication, or
according to a poll? We sat down and we looked at the past 30 years of
issues we had done, and we had Tony Blair on the cover in 1997, and
there were lots of questions about whether he would do what he had
promised in that manifesto, and he did. We thought, he gets such flak
for all sorts of things, but on this issue, I think we should recognise
how much was done. Did he change the political weather, as far as the
British establishment is concerned? Absolutely. When I interviewed Tony
Blair a week last Monday about this, he said that he thought the most
important thing about his political legacy in this respect was the
Conservative Party, and how they have now come on board. He remembers
in the latter half of his premiership, they were voting for
gay equality, whereas previously that had been unimaginable. I think
he is link. I spoke to David Cameron a few months ago, when same-sex
marriage came in, and he said Tony Blair should take a lot of credit
for changing public opinion. It seems strange to think back 20, 30
is, where it was a story if a politician was discovered to be gay.
It was. We used to do this thing called media watch, in the first 20
years of Daytimes, and we would look at things which publications had
printed, which you would not possibly see these days. In terms of
his political legacy on other fronts, was that difficult,
perhaps? He is controversial, but anybody who tough decisions ends up
being a reversal. For Gay Times, and for me personally, you can have
different opinions on different subjects, but on gay rights, he
stood up for it, and he stood up for gay equality. Previous prime
ministers had not done that. Thank you very much for joining us. That
is all from the programme. Next, the weather.
We are likely to see some patches of mist and fork forming overnight,
particularly across some areas of southern England.