While the ISIS “so called” caliphate in Iraq and Syria has been decimated, the United States continues to be concerned by the rise of ISIS and its affiliates in other regions.
In November [November 10], the United States and Nigeria convened a virtual meeting with members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with representatives of West African states and relevant regional organizations to discuss the threat ISIS presents.
U.S. Special Envoy to the Coalition Nathan Sales said the meeting represented a significant pivot of the Coalition to one of the most important fronts in the fight. “While we must and will remain focused on preventing the resurgence of ISIS in the core [of Iraq and Syria], we must also address ISIS’s focus on using its branches and networks outside the core as the platforms from which to continue fighting,” Special Envoy Sales said. “Nowhere has this trend been as alarming as in Africa. If we are committed to ISIS’ global defeat – and we are - we have to confront it in Africa, and particularly in West Africa.”
Special Envoy Sales pointed out that attacks in West Africa by ISIS-affiliated groups have significantly increased in volume and lethality over the past years.
But the good news, he said, is that the Global Coalition “has demonstrated that it is flexible and capable of adapting and responding to an evolving threat.” While he noted that each battle against ISIS must be fought on its own terrain, the Coalition has developed “a culture of coordination across civilian and military lines of effort, and bilateral and multilateral initiatives” that can complement other counterterrorism initiatives in the region.
Special Envoy Sales emphasized that “however the Global Coalition decides to contribute to the D-ISIS fight, it will be important to make improving security forces’ respect for human rights a key component of our efforts…Human rights abuses perpetrated by security forces,” he noted, “directly contribute to terrorists’ ability to radicalize, recruit and discredit government legitimacy.”
Since 2017, the American people have invested more than $114 million in counterterrorism assistance in the wider region encompassing the G5 Sahel and Lake Chad Basin. Special Envoy Sales highlighted the U.S. plan to contribute over $30 million more over the next year. Our common fight against ISIS threats in West Africa, he emphasized, is a critical effort that the United States is committed to support.