The U.S.-led coalition’s strategy to degrade and defeat the terrorist group ISIL is working, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Speaking before representatives of 60 contributing countries, Secretary Kerry said that since the coalition began operations two and a half months ago, ISIL’s momentum has been halted:
“It has been forced to modify its tactics – and some of those modifications [are] severely hampering their ability to operate in the way that they were, certainly – that their hold on territory has been challenged already, and their finances have been strained, and in almost every media market that exists, and certainly within the region, their message is being denounced. Their message of hate is being challenged in public meeting places, in mosques across the globe.”
The coalition is using a multi-faceted approach, and while the military aspects, particularly the airstrikes, are the most visible part, a military response alone is not the answer, said Secretary Kerry: destroying ISIL “is going to require defeating the ideology – the funding, the recruitment, and the devastation that they’ve been able to inflict on people in the region,” he said.
And key to the coalition’s success is long-term stability in Iraq. “Nothing will do more to defeat [ISIL] than an Iraq that is united and has more representative and effective security forces,” said Secretary Kerry. In that respect, much still needs to be done. But Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi has already started the ball rolling by taking numerous steps to unite the country. This includes a landmark oil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, reform of the Iraqi security forces and justice system, and outreach to Sunni tribes.
This is all-important, because part of the strategy against ISIL is to ensure that once a town is reclaimed, its people are presented with more opportunity, a better life, said Secretary Kerry. “It’s the campaign that goes on every day thereafter in providing a government that is responsive, that is inclusive, that is pluralistic, that is freeing itself from any clutches of corruption.”