Daesh

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 23rd February 2016.

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Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon 11:30 am, 23rd February 2016

What discussions he has had with other members of the international coalition on improving diplomatic co- ordination against Daesh.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

What discussions he has had with other members of the international coalition on improving diplomatic co-ordination against Daesh.

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Britain was a driving force behind the creation of the global coalition. We hosted the first coalition meeting in London in January 2015. I frequently discuss the campaign against Daesh with coalition and other international partners, including at a coalition small group meeting in Rome earlier this month.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon

The Kurdistan Regional Government army has been valiantly battling against Daesh over a 1,000 km frontline since summer 2014. Will my right hon. Friend pay tribute to the peshmerga and say more about the role they may play in the liberation of Mosul?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I am very happy to pay tribute to the peshmerga. They have proved themselves to be an extraordinarily resilient fighting force and perhaps the most effective force operating against Daesh. The UK is training and providing equipment to the peshmerga. I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to meet President Barzani of the KRG, to talk about the liberation of Mosul and the role that the peshmerga might play. I am pleased to be able to report two things. First, the KRG appear to have become more open to the idea that the peshmerga will play a role in the liberation of Mosul. That will be very important. They have also agreed to Iraqi Government security forces being based in the KRG to prepare for the assault on Mosul. Those two things make it much more likely that we will see a successful assault on Mosul earlier rather than later.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

Seeking a diplomatic solution in Syria has gone hand in hand with our humanitarian aid in the region. Will the Secretary of State set out how increased diplomatic co-operation will improve and assist our humanitarian aid in the region, specifically in neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

As the whole House will know, we hosted in London on 4 February a very successful conference on Syria and the region, raising $11 billion in a single day. The real significance of that meeting, however, was that we moved on from the idea of simply collecting money and distributing it to working with the host countries in the region to ensure that refugees are able to access the labour market, get education for their children and access healthcare, making them less likely to feel the need to decamp and become irregular migrants heading towards Europe.

Photo of Gisela Stuart Gisela Stuart Labour, Birmingham, Edgbaston

Daesh moves into areas of conflict and ungoverned spaces. King Abdullah of Jordan has asked that we reach out to areas such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo, as he regards them to be among the next potential trouble spots. Are we making any progress?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Yes. The hon. Lady is right. We should be very much focused not only on the countries that already face that challenge, but on the countries that are next in line for the challenge, and we should seek to reinforce them. I am happy to tell her, if she was not aware of this, that the Prime Ministers of all the western Balkan countries were in London yesterday, and I had the opportunity to meet the Prime Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, and Montenegro. We are working closely with them to ensure the resilience and the European trajectory of that region.

Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Reform and Constitutional Issues), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), DUP Westminster Leader

On the issue of Daesh fighters returning home to countries here in Europe, what diplomatic co-ordination efforts have been made to develop a common response among countries in Europe to ensure that we keep our citizens safe and prevent those people from coming back to wreak havoc, through terrorism, on towns and cities in the UK?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Different countries in Europe have different domestic legislation around that issue. We in the UK have some of the most robust measures available to us to deal with returning fighters. It is precisely because of the importance of the exchange of information between European partners that the Prime Minister was able to confirm yesterday that we believe that Britain is safer and more resilient against the threat of terrorism because of its co-operation within the European Union.

Photo of Royston Smith Royston Smith Conservative, Southampton, Itchen

As operations against Daesh in Iraq are successful—[Interruption.]

Photo of Royston Smith Royston Smith Conservative, Southampton, Itchen

You are very kind, Mr Speaker. As operations against Daesh in Iraq are successful, what is the threat of Daesh’s moving to Libya? Has the Foreign Secretary made an assessment of that eventuality?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

There is clearly a risk that as Daesh is militarily defeated in Iraq and then in Syria, the embryonic Daesh presence in Libya, particularly around Sirte, could become a new base for operations just 100 miles off the coast of Europe. That is why we are working with our partners and allies to encourage the formation of a Libyan Government of national accord that we can work with to start stabilising the country and pushing back on the Daesh footholds in Libya.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

Further to the last question, can the Foreign Secretary say how far ahead we are in bringing about that co-ordination and establishing a stable authority in Libya to take on Daesh? We have seen recently an increase in Daesh activity, and there is still a lot of disconnect between the different bodies in Libya. Will he give us a bit more information about what progress is being made?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

There is progress being made among European partners and with the US on preparing the kind of support we could give to a Government of national accord in Libya when and if one is formed. The problem is that several months after we first expected that to happen, the Government have still not been formed. We are working very closely with the parties in Libya and with the regional powers who have influence, particularly Egypt, to encourage Prime Minister Siraj to take the necessary steps to get that Government formed and approved so that we can engage. There is a strong commitment by the European partners to engage once that Government have been created.