United States efforts to build a broad military coalition to fight the Islamic State stumbled on Monday as differences surfaced on whether Iraq’s neighbors — particularly Iran and Syria — should join the campaign against the militant group, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A group of 26 countries gathering in Paris — including the US, Saudi Arabia and Russia — vowed to support Baghdad’s fight against the Sunni extremist organization “by any means necessary, including appropriate military assistance”.
But the meeting failed to make progress on the key goal of persuading regional allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia to participate in a military campaign, according to the newspaper.
Russia slammed the US for its plan to launch airstrikes in Islamic State strongholds in Syria without coordinating the campaign with Damascus and Tehran, it said.
Key US allies, particularly those in the Middle East, gave no sign they were ready to commit to a military campaign in Iraq or Syria.
Britain vowed to play a “leading role” in the fight, but Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “We haven’t made a decision yet about how we will best contribute to the coalition.”
Iran’s exclusion from the coalition proved to be a contentious issue at the Paris conference. Iran provides extensive military and intelligence support to the Shiite-led Baghdad government and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We had insisted for Iran to be there and we regret their absence,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said, adding Tehran had provided his government with “significant support” in fighting the Islamic State.
One Arab diplomat warned against sending jets into Syrian airspace without the involvement of Damascus, the report said.
“There has to be a level of coordination. The Syrian regime could shoot down US or Arab jets, and they know this,” the diplomat was quoted as saying.
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