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Agenda:

Today across the Middle East we are witnessing a period of upheaval reminiscent of some of the most tumultuous times in the region's history.

The scale of the suffering we are witnessing in Northern Iraq is manifest on our television screens. But to try to understand the latest fighting simply in terms of ISIL's battlefield advances is to misunderstand the underlying forces at play across the region.

The Arab uprisings of 2011 precipitated a period of turmoil in Syria, Egypt and Libya - the spill-over effect of which has, in turn, brought to the fore historic sectarian and religious tensions across the region, most recently today in Iraq.

So of course any strategy for engagement with the Middle East must begin with humility. But that humility must not give way to passivity - and the UK, along with allies, should be striving to develop a re-invigorated ‎approach to the challenges of the region.‎

Of course that must start with an effective response to ISIL. Their ideology, their brutal rule by fear and their intolerance of fellow Muslims, as well as religious minorities, undermine our most basic values and ideals, as well as pose a serious security threat to Iraq and the region.

Tackling this threat means first and foremost ensuring that Iraq - and the new government - has the support it needs at this moment of acute crisis. Given America's unique military capabilities, President Obama was right to agree to the Iraqi government's request for air support in Northern Iraq.

And we welcomed the steps taken by the EU to offer more co-ordinated international assistance to the Kurdish Peshmarga - today the effective front line against ISIL.

The West must now support the efforts of the new Iraqi government to promote a more inclusive power-sharing agreement in Baghdad.

We have seen in recent months the threat of ISIL extends across borders, and so any strategy for combating it cannot be confined to within the borders of Iraq alone. In Syria - which ISIL continues to use as a base for training and recruiting - the international community must return to trying to achieve a transitional agreement, of the type anticipated in the Geneva II process. Of course the challenges remain significant, but the urgency of the threat posed by ISIL could be a crucial catalyst for the parties to now reach an agreement.

The West must also wake up to the intense pressure facing Jordan today - which shares a border with Iraqi-ISIL held territory and is taking in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. There now needs to be an urgent agreement on a comprehensive economic, security and humanitarian response to address these mounting pressures on the Jordanian government.

While people and arms continue to move across the Turkish-Syrian border, Turkey, a Nato ally, must offer guarantees to its partners and allies that it is taking steps to uphold its responsibilities to secure key border areas that represent a vital front in the struggle to contain, disrupt and defeat ISIL.

As well as vital bilateral support for countries like Jordan, an international response to ISIL must be regionally-led. So the UK - as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as its current Chair - should propose an international summit in the region, and secure the participation of key regional allies including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and, crucially, Iran.

At this weekend's EU Council meeting in Brussels, David Cameron will have a crucial opportunity to gain backing for such a summit by key international allies.

What is clear today is that the scale of the challenges emerging in the Middle East are not being matched by the scale of strategic thinking in the international community's response.

Dealing with the immediate humanitarian crisis in Iraq must be the priority. But for any gains to be sustained in the long term, they must form part of a wider strategy to help deliver greater stability and security not just in Iraq, but across the Middle East.

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