London, Jan. 23: US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the Foreign and Commonwealth office here Thursday that the recent terrible events in Paris have reminded us that the battle against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also called ISIS) is not confined within the borders of Iraq and Syria and that this poisonous ideology threatens our own citizens and the citizens of our allies.
Addressing a joint press conference with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Mr. Kerry said 21 key members of the global coalition met in London today (Jan.22) to review and discuss efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL not just through military force, but by addressing the underlying narrative of the organization, its financing, its flow of foreign fighters, and by reasserting our commitment to Iraq. In total, over 60 countries have signed up to the global coalition, showing the international will and commitment to combat this threat.
On the military track, coalition airstrikes have helped to halt ISIL’s advance, and we’ve had an update today from General Allen (John R. Allen, AO is a United States Marine Corps four-star general) on the work to rebuild, re-equip, and retrain the Iraqi Security Forces, allowing them in due course to push ISIL back and reassert Iraqi sovereignty over all the territory of Iraq, Mr. Kerry told journalists adding “beyond our military action, we reviewed how we’re doing in our
efforts against ISIL’s finances and in countering their twisted narrative, how effectively we are delivering our efforts against the flow of foreign fighters arriving to fight in their ranks.” And, he elaborated, in each case, we talked about what more we can do together to achieve our objectives in these areas. We reviewed, too, how we can offer support to those who are most affected by the humanitarian crisis that the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria has brought about across the region.
The global coalition meeting, according to Mr.Kerry, confirmed the determination of our broad and united coalition to defeat not only ISIL, but also the ideology that underlies it, and not just in Iraq and Syria, but wherever it rears its head. We recognize that political progress in both Iraq and Syria will be vital in ultimately defeating ISIL in those countries, and Prime Minister Abadi updated the meeting on progress to date and the significant challenges remaining. We congratulated him on the progress that has been made in Iraq in the hundred or so days since he formed his government and reaffirmed our support for what he is doing.
Most importantly, we all confirmed our commitment to the struggle, however long it takes and wherever it leads us, to defeating the scourge of violent Islamist extremism, said Mr. Kerry.
Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq said on this occasion: “we are here to strengthen the international coalition against Daesh and the terrorist organizations. I’m personally here to get more support from our partners, and I’m very glad I have heard a lot of commitment from our partners to support Iraq in its fight against Daesh. This is quite important for the Iraqi people and very important for our military.”
The Iraqi Prime Minister said in the last month, there has been an increase in the air campaign against Daesh positions in terms of number and effectiveness, and many countries take part in this program and in this campaign in the reconnaissance and in the actual bombing of Daesh targets. We
have seen an increase in delivering of arms and munitions. He summed up the meeting as “very open” and said a lot of issues standing in the way to stamp out Daesh were discussed. Iraqi forces are achieving a lot of progress on the ground, and the Government of Iraq has been reaching out to all political and communities inside Iraq and to the region. “I think we have established now a very successful network and cooperation with the regional powers, neighboring countries of Iraq and in the region and inside Iraq. And this is very important to fight Daesh. We cannot fight Daesh without this progress. And the international coalition, which we attended today, will strengthen our resolution to fight Daesh,” he emphasised.
The fiscal problem for Iraq especially as oil prices have dropped to about 40 percent of their level last year, was also discussed at the meeting, Mr. Al-Abadi said pointing out that the Iraqi economy and budget relies 85 percent on oil, and this has been disastrous for us. Daesh is a terrorist organization. It knows no race, no religion, no region. It spares nobody, so everybody must be facing Daesh, he went on to assert.
Mr. KERRY told media-persons at this juncture that in Brussels there were representatives from 60 different countries representing a very broad, worldwide range of views and of priorities. here they are together with the very same goal. “We all understand that Daesh, as it is commonly known in the Arab world, is not simply a Syrian problem. It’s not an Iraqi problem. Daesh is a global problem, and it demands a coordinated, comprehensive, and enduring global response”, he observed.
In Mr Kerry’s words:
The coalition came together around the joint statement that was issued out of the meeting in Brussels, and that outlines our multiple lines of effort that we are currently engaged in – providing security assistance, strengthening the capacity of Iraq to stand on its own, protecting our homelands, disrupting the flow of foreign fighters, draining Daesh’s financial resources, providing humanitarian relief to victims, and ultimately defeating what Daesh represents, defeating
Daesh as an idea, if it can be called that.
And all the coalition partners are continuing to make vital contributions to this, and we mean all 60. Whether it’s sheltering refugees, training, advising Iraqi troops on the front lines, or speaking out against Daesh’s hateful, false ideology, we appreciate the contribution of every single member, each of whom has chosen one line of effort or another.But we also recognize the need to, as effectively as possible, be able to coordinate all of these contributions. And that’s what the small group that came here today set out to do. The small group will continue to meet on a regular basis and continue, obviously, to consult with the full 60 members of the coalition, who will meet again as a full membership. But in the meantime, we want to ensure that we are synchronized, that we are unified, that we are effective, that we are able to carry out each line of effort as rapidly and as efficiently as possible. As agreed in Brussels, we will establish an expert-level series of working groups to pool resources and expertise from coalition capitals in order to defeat Daesh as an organization. And thereby, we will combat its manpower, its resources, its recruiting, and its ideology.
The full plenary will convene again later this year in order to draw from the lessons that we have learned all around the world. And as I think many of you are aware, President Obama has invited countries to come and join in a consultation about violent extremism in Washington in the month of February, during which time we will have civil society, religious leaders, students, NGOs, others, plus government ministers, and we will have a subsequent ministerial meeting ourselves at the State Department. All of this is to try to build capacity, build efficiency – basically, just to get the job done.
Now obviously, there is a tremendous amount of work that is already underway. In recent months, we have seen, definitively, Daesh’s momentum halted in Iraq, and in some cases reversed. And while Daesh may make some announcement about some distant location where four or five people have chosen to affiliate with them, that does not represent advances in the front line of the initiative that we have begun with, which is building the capacity of Iraq to be able to defend itself. And that process is very much underway at this time. There’s a – it’s important to note that ground forces, supported by nearly 2,000 airstrikes now, have reclaimed more than 700 square kilometers from Daesh. Coalition training and advising efforts in Iraq are underway and ramping up, with the goal of ultimately raising 12 new Iraqi brigades. And this spring, we’re going to begin training for the Syrian opposition forces at camps in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar.
The fact is that, while the trajectory of this fight, as President Obama and other leaders have said from the beginning, will be neither short nor easy – that has been a consistent statement – today we are seeing important gains along all the lines of effort, and we discussed these gains in detail today, as well as the necessary steps that we have to take to build on them. I don’t think there’s any undertaking in its early months where you can’t do better and you can’t find things you can’t improve on, and that’s precisely what we talked about here today.
So let me also add that we’re not only focused on defeating Daesh and liberating the areas that are under its control in the short term, but we’re also concerned with helping Daesh’s victims to rebuild their lives once Daesh is long gone. And this is absolutely critical. These communities will need police and local governance in order to ensure that – law and order, and in order to restore ties with the central government. They’ll need provisions for basic resources like electricity and water. And those who’ve suffered unimaginable horrors under Daesh, especially women and girls, will continue to need the kind of humanitarian relief that countries around the world have generously been providing since this crisis began. To that end, we commend the recent UN announcement of a multi-partner recover and stabilization fund, and this fund will support Iraqi- led stabilization efforts in communities that have been rescued from Daesh’s grip. And for many, it will self – it will literally serve as the bridge between horror and hope.
As President Obama said in his State of the Union Address a couple of days ago, this effort will take time, it will require focus, but we will succeed. Tomorrow, I will travel to Davos, Switzerland. I think the prime minister is going today; I think we’re speaking almost one right after the other. And at that time, I’ll speak in greater detail about our global efforts, and global efforts that are necessary to prevent and combat violent extremism.
But for now let me just underscore this: This is a huge task with no shortcuts. We’ve made progress in coordinating our efforts today, and we will continue to make progress, including at the summit on opposing extremist violence that I talked about a moment ago that the President – President Obama will convene.
After five months of close collaboration on this effort, I can tell you that Prime Minister Abadi, Foreign Secretary Hammond, and all of the coalition partners here today fully recognize how important this moment is, and restated their commitment to see this through. And we know that we have to get it right, and that is precisely what the subject matter of this meeting most focused on.