Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks in the House of Parliament on Sept. 26 during a debate to decide on approval for airstrikes in Iraq. (Photo: AP)

Joining US War, British Parliament OKs Bombing of Iraq

Parliament votes to partake in bombings, despite emergency protests and warnings of more 'suffering and destabilization'

Sarah Lazare

British parliament on Friday voted to approve air strikes on Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Iraq, making it one of the latest European countries to join the U.S.'s ever-expanding bombing campaign on the war-ravaged country.

The House of Commons approved the air strikes in a vote of 524-to-43, with the heads of all major parties lining up to endorse. The vote was a notable shift from the British parliament's decision last year not to join potential U.S. strikes on Syria, which were then proposed to target the regime of Bashar al-Assad, in part because of the war-weariness of the UK public.

This time Prime Minister David Cameron, a strong proponent of the bombings, waited until seven weeks after the initiation of the U.S. attacks in an apparent bid to gain political consensus before the vote. Furthermore, the vote approved bombings in Iraq but not Syria, where the U.S. is leading a war campaign.

Some hawkish lawmakers complained that the vote did not go far enough because it excluded bombings on Syria. A minority of voices in parliament warned that the government is repeating the same mistakes it had made in Iraq and Afghanistan. Labor Party MP Rushanara Ali resigned from her party's front bench after refusing to support Britain's participation in the U.S. war.

In his statements to parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron sought to distance the coming bombings from the UK's unpopular decision to join the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, while also indicating the new war could last a long time.

“We would want to see a stable Iraq and — over time — a stable Syria too; ISIL degraded and then destroyed as a serious terrorist organization,” said Cameron. “But let me be frank: we should not expect this to happen quickly. The hallmarks of this campaign will be patience and persistence, not shock and awe.”

But opponents say air strikes will only worsen the UK's crimes against the people of Iraq and intensify military escalation and violence in the region.

"All the experience of the terrible wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya has shown that western military action only serves to kill innocents, destroy infrastructure and inflame violence," stated the UK-based Stop the War Coalition in a call for an emergency protest before the vote. "ISIS is a reactionary force, but it is in part a product of the disastrous occupation of Iraq by Western powers. ISIS is funded by some of our main allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Escalating Western military intervention will do nothing to stop them but will create more suffering and further destabilize the region."

The vote means that, within hours, Britain will be poised to use Tornado fighter jets and surveillance and intelligence air craft to launch bombings, in addition to the reconnaissance missions it has already been flying over Iraq.

Also on Friday, the Danish government announced it will deploy to Iraq seven F-16 air craft and at least 250 pilots, and Belgium voted to send six F-16 fighter jets. France was the first European country to bomb Iraq in this latest war, and the Netherlands announced earlier this week it will participate in bombings on Iraq. None of these countries has revealed immediate plans to participate directly in U.S. bombings on Syria, although Cameron has argued there is a "strong case" for striking Syria as well.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to aggressively pursue war in Iraq and Syria with no formal congressional debate or vote.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Warnock Defeats Walker in Georgia, Giving Democrats 51-49 Senate Majority

"Tonight, the people—young, Black, Brown, and working people—expanded the Senate majority, neutralized the power of Joe Manchin, and defeated yet another fascist," the Sunrise Movement cheered.

Brett Wilkins ·


'About Damn Time': NY Jury Finds Trump Organization Guilty on All Counts of Tax Fraud

"Today's guilty verdict against the Trump Organization shows that we will hold individuals and organizations accountable when they violate our laws to line their pockets," said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Brett Wilkins ·


Oxfam Rebukes EU Over Delayed Deal on Global Minimum Corporate Tax

"This is a loss to ordinary people who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and a win to the ultra-profitable corporations," said the group's tax expert for the bloc.

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Biodiversity Summit Called 'Make-or-Break Moment' for Wildlife

"The deluded dreams of billionaires aside, there is no Planet B," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. "We must fix the world we have."

Julia Conley ·


Congressional Progressives, Climate Activists Rally Against Manchin's 'Dirty Deal'

"As if spending $847 billion on the military-industrial complex wasn't bad enough," said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, "now they want to add sacrificing frontline communities for polluter profits to the package?"

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo