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Kurdish Peshmerga

Volume 587: debated on Tuesday 28 October 2014

As I have just said, the Prime Minister has appointed Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayall as his security envoy to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. At the request of the Government of Iraq, we have delivered over 300 tonnes of supplies to Irbil. This includes over 100 tonnes of weapons and equipment from the UK. We are instructing peshmerga soldiers on the operation of the heavy machine guns that we have delivered, as well as on counter-IED techniques.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Does he believe that more could be done by regional states to support the fight against ISIS by the peshmerga? Does he also believe that more could be done to ensure that we retain the support of our constituents who rightly think that more should be done by the regions?

Yes, but let me answer that question slightly more widely. The situation in Iraq, including in the Kurdistan region, is complex. There is a lot of history and a lot of baggage in the region. While the neighbouring states are all—remarkably—aligned in their desire to see ISIL defeated, the historical pattern of relationships and enmities between the different groups means that we have to take care when deciding who does what and how they do it. We need to be sensitive to the context of the region.

This is not just about Iraq and Syria. As the Foreign Secretary knows, ISIL-backed groups have also been successful in bringing Yemen to the brink of civil war. What further action can be taken to help the Governments of the whole region?

Specifically on Yemen, we are very concerned about the security situation there and we continue to support the legitimate Government in Sana’a and to work with regional partners. I had a meeting with Gulf Co-operation Council partners the week before last, at which we considered carefully the options for supporting the legitimate regime in Sana’a against the Houthi coup.