LONDON — Britain`s parliament voted on Wednesday to launch bombarding attacks against Islamic State in Syria, supporting Prime Minister David Cameron`s case that the country needs to help destroy militants who are “plotting to kill us”.
After over 10 hours of tense debate, lawmakers voted for air strikes, by 397 to 223. British Tornado GR4 bombers could leave an air base in Cyprus within hours to launch the country`s latest military action in the Middle East.
US President Barack Obama hailed the decision. In a statement that also praised a German government decision to provide 1,200 military personnel to support the fight against the radical group, Obama praised a “special relationship” with Britain “rooted in our shared values and mutual commitment to global peace, prosperity, and security.”
Given Britain`s diminished role on the world stage, the victory hands Cameron the chance to restore Britain`s standing in global affairs. He had urged lawmakers not to turn their back on allies such as France in their time of need.
“Britain is safer tonight because of the decision that the House of Commons has taken,” Foreign Minister Philip Hammond told Sky News.
Many British voters are wary of being dragged into another war in the Middle East. Some view Western intervention in Iraq and Libya as a failure that sowed chaos across the region and the news of the vote was met by howls of disgust by dozens of anti-war protesters demonstrating outside parliament.
But the November 13 attacks on Paris that killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State have stiffened the resolve of some lawmakers and divided the opposition Labour Party, which convinced Cameron he could win the support of parliament for extending air strikes beyond Iraq.
Cameron said the more than four-year Syrian civil war could not be resolved by military action alone, but that the strikes would “degrade” Islamic State militants – which he said should be called Daesh.
Daesh is the pejorative word used by opponents or people who do not support Islamic State to refer to the jihadist group.
“These terrorists are plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now. They attack us because of who we are, not because of what we do,” Cameron told a packed House of Commons, where many lawmakers sat on steps or stayed standing.
“The question is this: do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat, and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands, from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?”
Germany`s parliament is also expected to vote on Friday in favor of joining the campaign against Islamic State, although only to provide military support for air strikes, not actually to take part in them.
Former French leader Sarkozy held over Libyan funding inquiry
PARIS — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was held in custody on Tuesday and questioned by magistrates investigating whether late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi helped finance his 2007 election campaign, an official in the French judiciary said.
It is the second major judicial investigation to fall on the 63-year-old, who served as president from 2007-2012. He already faces trial on separate charges of illicit spending overruns during his failed re-election campaign in 2012.
A lawyer for Sarkozy could not immediately be reached for comment. The former president has dismissed the Libya allegations as “grotesque” and a ‘crude manipulation’.
France opened an inquiry into the Libya case in 2013, after reports by French website Mediapart based on claims by a Franco-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who said he had transferred 5 million euros ($6 million) from Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi to Sarkozy’s campaign director.
Months after he took office in 2007, the French leader came in for criticism for hosting a state visit by Gaddafi during which the Libyan leader pitched his trademark Bedouin-style tent next to the Elysee Palace.
Gaddafi’s first visit to a Western leader in decades, which was accompanied by the signing of several business deals, came after Sarkozy helped get five Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting children with HIV released from jail in Libya.
Sarkozy was later one of the chief advocates of a NATO-led military campaign that resulted in Gaddafi’s overthrow and killing at the hands of rebel forces in 2011.
French judicial procedure allows for investigators to hold a person for questioning for up to 48 hours, after which the magistrates must say whether they have grounds for turning a preliminary inquiry into a full investigation.Follow @gorkhapost