On 15 September 2014, world powers backed military measures to help defeat Islamic State fighters in Iraq, boosting USA’s efforts to set up a coalition.
France sent fighter jets on a reconnaissance mission over Iraq, a step closer to becoming the first ally to join the United States in new bombing there since President Barack Obama declared his plans to establish a broad coalition.
Paris also hosted an international conference, attended by the five UN Security Council permanent members, European and Arab States, and representatives of the EU, Arab League and United Nations. All pledged to help the government in Baghdad fight against Islamic State militants.
However, there was no mention at all of Syria, the other country where Islamic State fighters hold a wide swathe of territory. Iraq attended the meeting but Syria did not, nor did its main regional ally, Iran.
Military intervention against Islamic State militants could be justified on the grounds of self-defence or preventing a campaign “pretty close to genocide”, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. He added that the threat posed by Islamic State “requires a military response to degrade and defeat this terrorist organisation”.
The conference was an important vote of confidence for the new Iraqi government, led by a member of Iraq’s Shia majority, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and also including minority Sunnis and Kurds in important jobs.
Iraq’s allies hope that Abadi will prove a more consensual leader than his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia whose policies alienated many Sunnis.