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EU united against IS but divided in its actions

The U.S., who have been conducting airstrikes against IS, has been isolated in its military operations and has asked allies in Europe – among others -for assistance. But once again European countries, undoubtedly still bearing the marks of the 2003 war in Iraq, have failed to find a common voice. But , as various reports have indicated that hundreds of European Muslims have joined the ranks of IS, Europe has found itself implicated as potentially facing threats from within. "We have to develop a common approach and stance against this phenomenon," said one EU senior official close to Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in remarks to an AA correspondent. While a concerted approach to the crisis in Iraq and Syria by EU countries has been difficult to find, most have provided aid, military or humanitarian, but have done so individually, showcasing a determination not stay on the sidelines. Criticisms on the EU's late and timid response to more than three-year crisis in Syria have been one of the factors that determined relatively swifter approach of the body against the IS threat, EU diplomatic officials told Anadolu Agency.

President Francois Hollande has called on Wednesday for an international summit on security in Iraq and the Islamic State, France has provided military aid to peshmerga forces of the Iraqi autonomous regional administration (KRG) last Friday in order to stop IS advances.

And in a surprise move, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has declared itself, through German Defense Minister Ursula von Der Leyen “ ready to provide weapons and ammunition to the fighters in Northern Iraq,” a stunning reversal of Germany’s  post-World War II aversion, turned into policy, of sending arms shipments to conflict areas.

Meanwhile, Italy's defense ministry said that it was considering sending 23,000 AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles to the Peshmerga.

“Europe must be present in Iraq at the moment or it is not Europe,” said Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who flew to Baghdad to meet Iraqi officials on Wednesday.

Other countries such as the Netherlands are still evaluating their plans to send direct military aid.

A direct involvement by the EU in the region remains unlikely as France’s military is stretched thin with its forces in Mali and in the Central African Republic and the UK is still reeling from the effects of the 2003 Iraq war, as evidenced by Parliament’s opposition to military involvement in Syria last year. Germany on the other hand has already taken one huge step by declaring itself “ready” to provide arms in a conflict area  but an urgent call for intervention is unlikely.   

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