Iraq PM says ISIS a threat to Arabs, Iran and the West
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said ‘I want an international umbrella, I don’t know what is going to happen in the future’
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the threat emanating from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militant group as one that affected the international community, including regional countries such as Iran, in an interview with BBC on Wednesday.
“I am asking for all international efforts,” Abadi told the BBC, adding “I want an international umbrella, I don’t know what is going to happen in the future.”
“My message to the international coalition, that the threat is a threat to Iraq and the international coalition and Iran. So let’s us work together in Iraq to eliminate this threat.”
He also highlighted that eradicating ISIS is a “common interest” to both Iran and the Gulf states. “The threat is against us all,” he emphasized.
The U.S., UK and France have so far hit ISIS targets in Iraq and also in neighboring Syria. Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan have joined the U.S.-led coalition against the militants.
Abadi said “we have contained this threat, but being in a battle and having looked at the threat they posed before, I cannot guarantee 100 percent [that] their existential threat is not there.”
“I have to take all measures necessary to protect the population, the country,” he explained, adding that “I am not taking chances, I am asking for all international support.”
Abadi’s statement comes after France said on Wednesday it would send a further three fighter jets and a warship to the Gulf to support the fight against ISIS.
Iraq considers Australia’s offer
Meanwhile, Australian air force personnel have completed their first operational missions in Iraq as part of efforts to combat ISIS but Baghdad said it was still considering if Canberra could join air strikes.
Iraq’s ambassador to Australia on Thursday gave no timetable for when his government might decide on Australia’s request to launch airstrikes against ISIS, the Associated Press reported.
Australia has six F/A-18F Super Hornet jet fighters waiting on standby in the United Arab Emirates for final authorization to begin combat missions with the U.S.-led coalition.
“We are seriously considering the request from Australia,” Ambassador Mouayed Saleh told The Associated Press.
He said a decision could be made Thursday, the last working day before Independence Day and a weeklong holiday. But it might not be made until after the holiday, he said.
Australia’s Cabinet was waiting for the Iraqi response before it can formally commit to a combat role.
The Australian government can commit troops without asking Parliament, which sits for the last day on Thursday before a two-week break.
Two unarmed Australian air force planes - an E-7A Wedgetail surveillance and communications jet and a KC-30A refueling plane - joined operations over Iraq from the al-Minhad Air Base outside Dubai for the first time on Wednesday in support roles, the air force said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday that these support missions would continue.
“We, at this stage, are not flying strike missions, but in coming days the government will be making further decisions,” Abbott told reporters.
Denmark votes to send jet fighters
Danish lawmakers also have confirmed the government’s proposal to send seven F-16 fighter jets to join the international coalition to take part in airstrikes against ISIS.
In a 94-9 vote with 76 absentees, lawmakers on Thursday sent four operational planes and three reserve jets along with 140 pilots and support staff for 12 months. The fighters will be based in Kuwait and will not deploy in Syria.
The Danish contribution also includes some 120 military trainers to school Iraqi and Kurdish fighters battling ISIS on the ground.