The chaos in Syria that opened the door to the so-called ’Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) terror group was created because the West did not intervene in the civil war.
The chaos in Syria that opened the door to the so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) terror group was created because the West did not intervene in the civil war, the head of MI6 suggested Friday.
Sir John Sawers also gave the strongest signal yet that the UK and US must find a way to work with Iran to combat the troubles in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
In rare public comments, the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service said the way the West responds to civil war in other countries created "real dilemmas".
The advance of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, which exploited the vacuums created by the conflicts, raised questions over the previous stance of Western powers not to intervene directly.
US aircraft have carried out more than 170 strikes since August 8 but President Barack Obama has been keen to build a broad international coalition.
Sir John told the Financial Times that the lesson of Afghanistan and Iraq was that a government can be toppled in months but it then takes years to rebuild the country.
He said: "If you decide not to [rebuild], as we did in Libya, partly because of the scars from Iraq, then you topple the government and you end up having nothing in its place.
"And if you don't intervene at all, you end up with a situation like you have in Syria. These are real dilemmas."
Sir John said there was also the possibility of reaching "some form of accommodation" with Iran, especially with the chaos in its neighboring countries.
It appeared to be stronger language than David Cameron, the Prime Minister, who told the Sunday Telegraph in August that Britain might "perhaps even" work with Tehran as he urged a coalition of nations to tackle the growing threat.
Last week Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, said he hoped Iran would cooperate and "align itself broadly with the direction that the coalition is going".