In the year since the formation of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL we have made progress on our campaign to degrade and defeat this unprecedented terrorist scourge. As we have acknowledged from the beginning, this will be a long-term campaign. But the situation one year ago was dire: ISIL, also known by its Arabic acronym Da’esh, had advanced across Iraq and was threatening Erbil, Kirkuk and Baghdad. Additional attacks against the Yezidi people appeared imminent. Since that time, despite inevitable setbacks, the Coalition has followed through on its comprehensive, strategic approach, and has proven its ability to constrain Da’esh’s freedom of movement in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition has also made progress organizing efforts to slow down ISIL’s reinforcement of fighters, counter the group’s messaging, and decrease its finances.
The dedication and sacrifices of Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga and Popular Mobilization Forces, and of Syrian opposition forces, have been central to this effort. In Iraq, with support from Coalition air forces, Da’esh can no longer operate freely in more than 30% of the populated territory it once held. Tikrit has been liberated, and more than 100,000 civilians have returned there and to surrounding areas. In northern Syria, Da’esh has lost much of the territory it had seized, and is now cut off from all but about 100 of the 822-kilometer border between Syria and Turkey. More than 5,000 Coalition trainers and advisors from 18 countries are in Iraq supporting the Iraqi government’s efforts to strengthen and develop local security forces in the campaign to liberate Ramadi and in preparation for the liberation of Mosul. Separately, more than 900 Coalition personnel are assisting the train and equip mission for Syrian opposition.
Through collective action we have created a vital Coalition that was only an idea just over a year ago. It features not only military coordination, but also innovative working groups focused on:
- disrupting the recruitment, travel and sustainment of foreign terrorist fighters, in coordination with the Global Counterterrorism Forum;
- countering Da’esh’s extortion and exploitation of economic and energy resources, and its use of the financial and banking system, in coordination with the Financial Action Task Force;
- exposing Da’esh’s message of hate and violence, while presenting an alternate and inclusive vision of hope for a better future; and
- stabilizing areas in Iraq liberated from Da’esh’s control by helping the Iraqi government restore local services and policing to enable the safe, voluntary and sustainable return of refugees and the internally displaced.
This week, as Coalition members gather with other nations and organizations on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, working group co-leads will outline progress on their initiatives and note how these are being synchronized with other multilateral institutions as noted above.
In Iraq, the Coalition supports the government led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in its efforts at reform, reconciliation and decentralization, including its cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government and representatives of Sunni-majority areas and ethnic and religious communities. These reforms are an important component in healing ethnic and sectarian divisions, establishing long-term peace, stability and prosperity for Iraq, and defeating Da’esh.
In Syria, the Coalition supports the Syrian people in their efforts to confront Da’esh, and to establish a transitional government based on the principles of the Geneva Communiqué, leading to a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic government that represents the will of all the Syrian people.
The Coalition is also rigorously assessing the threat represented by Da’esh in other countries and calibrating how to degrade and defeat them, relying on existing counterterrorism efforts and considering the use of tools and best practices that the Coalition is able to offer. Defeating Da’esh in Iraq and Syria will also help to discourage and disrupt these groups.
The Coalition strongly supports the efforts of the United Nations and the international humanitarian community in Syria and Iraq and throughout the region in providing assistance to meet the critical needs of those displaced or harmed by conflict and violence. In this regard, we commend countries and communities in the region hosting refugees and internally displaced persons – notably Egypt, Iraq (including the Iraqi Kurdistan Region), Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – and those in Europe and elsewhere that are admitting and caring for refugees.
We have a great deal more work to do together. Da’esh continues to recruit and radicalize susceptible populations, especially via social media. It carries out savage atrocities against all ethnic and religious groups, with minorities especially vulnerable; destroys the cultural heritage of humankind; and seeks to inspire and commit acts of terrorism worldwide. As such, defeating Da’esh requires a long-term commitment and multi-track approach. The world is united in its rejection of Da’esh and its debased ideology. Our Coalition reaffirms its continuing determination to work together to achieve the lasting defeat of Da’esh.