It’s time we contemplated the possibility of a post-conflict Kurdistan

There’s a  curious aspect to the debate – or what passes for it – about Britain getting involved in military action against the Islamic State. Isabel Hardman put her finger on it in her piece in this week’s magazine, identifying the defeat of the PM’s bid to take action in Syria for his reluctance to take military action now in Iraq. As she says: ‘This post-Syria timidity frustrates many of Cameron’s own MPs. Even under the new leadership of Michael Gove, the Tory whips made no efforts to sound out backbenchers on where they stand on a British response to the so-called Islamic State’s brutal campaign in Iraq. If they

Portrait of the week | 21 August 2014

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, writing of the Islamic State in northern Iraq, said: ‘If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain.’ Anyone waving an Islamic State flag in Britain would be arrested, he said. He invoked Britain’s ‘military prowess’ but later said: ‘We are not going to be putting boots on the ground.’ British C-130 transport planes were used to drop aid; Tornados were used for surveillance in addition to a Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft; and Chinook helicopters remained on standby. A raider who attacked a jeweller’s in Oxford

Thank God we’re intervening in Iraq again

Yesterday, I had a succession of texts from one of the priests in my local parish, Mgr Nizar, who heads the Iraqi Catholic church in London, asking, with increasing urgency, what could be done for the Christians in Quaraqosh, in Ninevah, where most of Iraq’s  remaining Christians live. ‘The situation is very bad,’ he wrote. ‘200,000 Christians are displaced. All the Christian cities fallen in the hands of ISIS.’ Another read: ‘Our cities are empty now and the people on the street sleeping and nowhere to go.’ The last time we spoke, he was agonised about the Christians displaced from Mosul, including most of his own family, under the threat

How the Westminster hawk became an endangered species

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”James Forsyth and Isabel Hardman discuss the death of Westminster hawks” startat=726] Listen [/audioplayer]There is a slight whiff of the summer of 1914 to Westminster at the moment. The garden party season is in full swing and the chatter is all about who is up and who is down. In the Commons chamber itself, domestic political argument dominates. You would not know that a vicious sectarian war is raging in the Middle East. At the first Prime Minister’s Questions after the fall of Mosul to the terrorist group ISIS, no one asked David Cameron to explain the government’s policy on Iraq. The situation in Iraq is dire on

The new Iraq war

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Former solider Tom Tugendhat and Fraser Nelson discuss ISIS in Iraq” startat=1758] Listen [/audioplayer]Seven weeks ago, Barack Obama proclaimed that ‘it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade of war’. The people of Iraq do not have this option. They’ve seen, in Basra, Iran-backed militias take on and defeat the British military. They’ve seen highly effective jihadis, disowned by al-Qa’eda for their brutality, take control of a major city, Fallujah, just 40 miles from Baghdad. This week they have seen their second city, Mosul, fall to that same band of psychopaths. If Syria is anything to go by, religious cleansing, beheadings and even crucifixions will

Portrait of the week | 12 June 2014

Home After an Ofsted inspection of 21 schools in Birmingham (none of them faith schools), against the background of allegations of attempts of a Muslim takeover in a so-called Operation Trojan Horse, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, joined Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, in seizing upon an observation by Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, that ‘all maintained schools and academies, including faith and non-faith schools, must promote the values of wider British society’. Five of the schools were put under ‘special measures’. In his advice note, Sir Michael said that ‘some head teachers reported that there has been an organised campaign to target certain schools in Birmingham in