In his address to the recent Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delineated the Coalition’s military successes against the Islamic State, including killing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters, and liberating 62 percent of ISIS-occupied land in Iraq, and thirty percent in Syria.
He praised the efforts of Coalition partners on the ground, including Turkish forces for pushing ISIS off the Turkey-Syria border; the Libyan government-aligned fighters for routing ISIS in Sirte; the Iraqi Security Forces who, with the cooperation of the Kurdish Peshmerga, are retaking the key ISIS stronghold of Mosul. He spoke of the courage of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, noting the commitment he has shown to ensure that people are cared for after the battles, and hailing the unprecedented cooperation between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government as a key reason for the progress seen against ISIS.
Soon, Secretary Tillerson noted, the Coalition’s efforts will enter a new phase, defined by transition from major military operations to stabilization. In this transition, the Coalition “will continue to clear landmines and return water and electricity – the basic elements that permit people to return to their homes.” He added that the Coalition “will pursue regional diplomatic solutions for the underlying political and sectarian disputes that helped ISIS to flourish,” and “will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to affected communities as necessary.”
Secretary Tillerson noted that a “successful stabilization phase will set the stage for a successful normalization phase” where “local leaders and local governments will take on the process of restoring their communities…with our support. The development of a rejuvenated civil society in these places will lead to…the emergence of stability and peace where there was once chaos and suffering.”
But, Mr. Tillerson warned, none of this will happen automatically. He asked each country in the Coalition to examine how it can best support these vital stabilization efforts “and deal the final blow to ISIS.”
Finally Mr. Tillerson emphasized that to stay ahead of a global outbreak of ISIS-related terrorism the Coalition will have to combat the terrorists’ perverse ideological message; persist with in-country counterterrorism and law enforcement operations; share intelligence among nations; and “break ISIS’s ability to spread its message and recruit new followers on line.”
“Most of all,” said Secretary of State Tillerson, “now is the time to strengthen our shared commitment to security and invest in a fight in which we all have a stake.”