Prime Minister: UK Committed To Middle East Security

Prime Minister Theresa May has met with Jordan's ruler, His Royal Highness King Abdullah, in Amman as part of a three-day visit to the...

Prime Minister Theresa May has met with Jordan's ruler, His Royal Highness King Abdullah, in Amman as part of a three-day visit to the Middle East.

Mrs May, on the final day of an official visit to the Middle East, announced an aid package of £94.5 million, part of which will go to training Jordan's military and includes British military, who will help train the country's quick reaction force.

Jordan has significant ties to the UK and several thousand British troops go on exercise in the country every year.

Mrs May is trying to strengthen those links – forging a plan to stop Islamic State from wreaking the same devastation across the region as it did in 2014.

Mrs May said: "We have conducted more than 1,600 air strikes against Daesh targets, second only to the United States, and we have more than 1,450 personnel supporting counter-Daesh operations in the wider region, including over 600 deployed in Iraq.  "We have trained over 60,000 Iraqi Security Forces, on everything from countering IEDs to engineering, logistics, and combat medical support.

"And under my leadership, we remain profoundly and unequivocally committed to supporting the security of this entire region. 

"For example with our Royal Navy, continuing to patrol the gulf as it has done for decades."


Battle Against IS At 'Critical Moment', Prime Minister Tells Forces News

Theresa May has become the first major foreign leader to visit Iraq after Mosul was reclaimed from the clutches of Islamic State, and has been speaking to Forces News reporter Ali Gibson about the work of British forces.

Iraq's second biggest city became a stronghold for the extremist group after it seized control in June 2014 - and in the fight to liberate it has left much of it in ruins.

For Mrs May, the first British Prime Minister to visit Iraq since Labour's Gordon Brown, it was also the first time she had been to a conflict zone.

"In Iraq we are working together to defeat Daesh and my visit comes at a critical moment as we see the caliphate collapsing with the fall of Mosul and Raqqa.

"We want to ensure that Iraq can in the future provide that strong, stable and unified state that can provide the security, jobs and opportunities that all Iraqis want and deserve."

She told Forces News: “I think what British forces have done, and with coalition forces in support, for the Iraqi forces in Operation Shader has obviously been very important in the successes that we have seen against Daesh.

“But in the future, we still want to be ensuring that we are working with the Iraqis to ensure the future stability of Iraq.

“We want to see a secure, stable and unified Iraq able to provide the jobs and opportunities and security that the Iraqi people want and deserve... So we will be continuing to support. “As regards the threat from Daesh… we do need to be aware that the threat continues as individuals disperse, as they try to inspire attacks across the world.

“That’s why we need to ensure that we’re dealing with the terrorist threat in every way possible including, for example, working with the internet companies to ensure that the hateful extremist propaganda can’t be disseminated across the internet."

As she stepped off the rear loading ramp of an RAF Hercules C-130, she was given a helping hand by the new British Ambassador for Iraq, Jon Wilks.

Her first stop was Camp Taji, a coalition base north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where around 80 British troops are currently based.

At a training complex on the camp, Mrs May watched Royal Engineers training Iraqi security forces to detect and deactivate improvised explosive devices.

After watching one soldier practising with a metal detector, swiping it across an area in between two strips of orange tape, she quizzed him through an interpreter about the skills he was gaining, and he replied that they were very important.

Enjoying a cup of coffee in the warm Middle Eastern sun as she chatted to troops, she exclaimed "Oh wow" as she spotted a large cake decorated with a Union flag which had pride of place on a long table.

During the visit, the Prime Minister announced three commitments to counter the evolving threat from IS and to manage the risk of foreign fighters returning to Europe.

These included a deepening counter-terrorism relationship with Iraq and £10 million over the next three years to help build the country's counter-terrorism capability.

She also said the UK would work with partners across the region to develop border infrastructure, watch-lists and biometric capabilities, to counter foreign fighter dispersal.

Mrs May reiterated her call for more to be done to tackle terrorist's use of the internet, which she said tech companies have begun to act upon by setting up the industry-led Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

"There is more for us to do, but we have had some success."

She also confirmed continuing support for Iraqi defence and security through officer training - including places for Iraqi students on high-profile UK courses at the UK military colleges and the Defence Academy.

British teams will also continue to train Iraqi forces.

Mrs May later toured the Global Coalition operations centre before moving on to have talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad.

Their discussions, which continued for around 45 minutes, are understood to have focused on future defence and security cooperation between the two countries.

Mr al-Abadi thanked Mrs May for Britain's support in training, logistics and intelligence.

"Her visit is proof of the United Kingdom's support in the fight against Daesh."

In the summer of 2014, IS blitzed across the north and west Iraq - capturing Mosul and even advancing to the edges of Baghdad.

The UK is one of 74 countries in the Global Coalition against Daesh.

RAF Typhoon and Tornado jets and Reaper drones have carried out more than 1,600 strikes, as well as surveillance, reconnaissance and refuelling missions, against the terrorists over the past three years.

And as part of the UK's role in the efforts, more than 600 British soldiers are currently deployed in locations across Iraq.

They have trained more than 60,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces in how to detect and disarm improvised explosive devices, medical techniques and infantry skills.

During her whistlestop tour of the Middle East, Mrs May will also visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan as she looks to bolster relationships in the region ahead of Britain quitting the EU.