The British parliament will vote today on whether UK forces should join U.S.-led air attacks against Islamic State militants. Any action will be confined to Iraq, which has asked for help, not Syria where IS also controls swathes of territory. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a separate vote on that if it comes to it.
Unlike last year when action to stop Syria’s Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his own people was voted down, all the main parties appear to be broadly in support, probably swayed by the beheading of captives by the Sunni militants.
There shouldn’t be much difficulty arguing that the group poses a threat to Britain and its interests. Iraq’s prime minister said overnight that Baghdad had “credible” intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States. The attacks, he said, were plotted from inside Iraq.
There is also the grisly spectacle of an apparently British man featuring in videos of captives being beheaded. The FBI said last night that the masked man seen wielding a knife in the videos had been identified though it declined to give his name or nationality.
French fighter jets struck Islamic State targets in Iraq on Thursday and the United States hit them in Syria, targeting oil refineries which are a major source of revenue for IS. The French strikes followed the beheading of a French tourist in Algeria by militants who said the killing was a response to Paris’ decision last week to become the first European country to join the U.S.-led bombing.