19 September 2014 – Security Council – Statement by Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
The terrorist group Daesh has seized control of part of Iraq and Syria. They wish to be known as the Islamic State. In reality, they are butchers. Daesh does not have the legitimacy of a State nor does it represent Islam. The Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt did not mince his words, and rightly so, when he recently said: “they are criminals who tarnish the image of Islam and Muslims”. They rape, crucify, slit throats and behead. They employ the most archaic forms of cruelty and the most modern communications technology as a grotesque means of propaganda. They seek to massacre, and they do so to not only minorities, Christians, Yazidi, Turkmen, and many others, but to all those who do not submit to them. They are flouting the rule of law and civil society. They represent a clear challenge to the international order and the founding principles that underpin the United Nations. Thus far, they have attacked Iraq after having thrived in Syria with the regime’s support, but their true aim is to extend to the entire region and beyond. Let us be clear. If they could, they would want to hold us all, or almost all, at knifepoint and gunpoint. Before such a threat, there is no choice but to take action.
France, in line with its principles and tradition, has decided to shoulder its responsibilities. We did so recently to face terrorism in Mali and, in a different context, in the Central African Republic. We did so in Syria, where we were among the first to support the moderate opposition, against both Bashar Al-Assad and the terrorists. In Iraq, we have decided to once again shoulder our responsibilities by providing humanitarian aid and military equipment and, today, answering the call by the Iraqi Government to provide air support, in compliance with international law. This morning, on the instructions the President of the Republic, French Rafale aeroplanes intervened against a warehouse occupied by the Daesh terrorists near Mosul, in north-eastern Iraq. The warehouse was completely destroyed. In the coming days, and without engaging troops on the ground, we will continue our efforts, in coordination with all those who want to commit, and in particular alongside the Iraqi armed forces and the peshmerga.
The action against Iraq in 2003 divided the Council. In 2014, in a very different context, action in favour of Iraq and against the Daesh terrorists is the common duty of us all. This fight, which has already claimed many innocent victims often under atrocious circumstances — and our heart goes out to them — will be won, first and foremost, by the Iraqis themselves. Military support is essential, but, as we have all said, it is not enough.
Iraq needs international political solidarity and internal unity. Terrorists have exploited the divisions among Iraqis and the serious frustrations of part of the population. The election of the new President Fuad Masum and the creation of the new Government by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, now clears the path for common action, and we must stay the course. We support the essential process of bringing about unity in Iraq. We all believe that the success of that process will require the building of an inclusive, stable and peaceful Iraqi State. For the just cause of international solidarity, we must bring together a maximum number of countries of all orientations, faiths and sizes.
With regard to security, we know the priorities: military support to Iraq; blocking the channels of foreign combatants; and draining the financial resources of the terrorists, which are primarily derived from oil. That draining should be completely unambiguous to everyone. We will not win with force alone. We also need political support for the Iraqi authorities. As I have said before, rebuilding the State and restoring confidence among all Iraqi communities are priorities.
With regard to international humanitarian assistance, with almost 2 million displaced persons, it should be greatly increased, together with rebuilding efforts. A bridge of international solidarity towards Iraq is truly what is needed. And yet the evidence also points to the fact that the rear bases of Daesh in Syria need to be weakened specifically through powerful support to the moderate Syrian opposition. We must act on all those fronts and quickly, because we know from experience that the cost of action dramatically increases the longer it takes us to take a decision and move to action.
The Paris conference on peace and security in Iraq held last Monday was a milestone, as was the conference in Jeddah a few days before. Today’s meeting at the United Nations, whereby Secretary of State Kerry has taken the initiative in a very timely manner, is another important step. The message of France in this struggle is clear. For peace and against terrorism, we must assume our responsibilities. The Daesh murderers must be fought and beaten; only then will Iraq and the entire region find peace and security.