Office of the Spokesperson
February 6, 2019
The text of the following statement was released by the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS/DAESH.
We, the Ministers, Secretaries General, and Heads of Delegations of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, met in Washington today at the invitation of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to review the significant progress of the past year against ISIS and to discuss the next stage in the campaign to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. We continue to welcome new members joining the Coalition over the past year, recognizing the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Guinea, Kenya, Fiji, and The Philippines. Together we remain firmly united in our outrage at ISIS’s atrocities and in our determination to eliminate this global threat and overcome its false, destructive narrative. We reiterate our commitment to the Coalition’s Guiding Principles adopted in Kuwait in 2018 and acknowledge the Coalition’s role in severing ISIS’ trans-regional efforts and thwarting its global ambitions as confirmed by its members. We recognize that this will require us to continually evolve and adapt our efforts against this pandemic enemy. Ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS in the Core will remain a priority for the Coalition’s collective effort as the threat remains high and to avoid any prospect of ISIS’s territorial resurgence in the areas it once controlled.
We welcome the progress made in the past year in liberating the territory controlled by ISIS that once spanned Iraq and Syria, and freeing more than 7.7 million people from ISIS’s tyranny. In doing so, we have degraded ISIS’s leadership, and its access to resources and global networks. We commend the efforts of our Iraqi partners, who, after liberating their nation in December 2017, continued conducting security operations and counterterrorism operations throughout Iraq, while concurrently supporting Coalition operations in Syria. We are similarly gratified that our partners continue to conduct offensive operations against ISIS remnants in Syria and, with Coalition support, provide security and stability in areas liberated from ISIS. Degrading the ISIS Core is also key to defeating its branches and networks as well as the spread of its ideology. Multinational collaboration and information-sharing has allowed us to disrupt potential attacks worldwide, by eroding ISIS’s ability to operate across international borders. We have diminished the ISIS online influence and have put pressure on ISIS’s finances through Coalition partner engagement, UN Security Council sanctions designations, and military strikes in Iraq and Syria.
This success has come at tremendous cost. We honor the sacrifices of our service members and our partners, who have been on the front lines of this effort. We also recognize and deplore the suffering of countless civilians worldwide at the hands of ISIS: violence against men, women, and children; enslavement and trafficking of women and girls, recruitment of child soldiers, and abuse of anyone who disagrees with its ideology, thoughts, and actions — including members of minority communities. We underscore our collective commitment to ensure that the civilians who have suffered so terribly at the hands of ISIS receive the justice and enduring support and protection they deserve from all Coalition partners. We call on all parties to the ongoing conflict to respect international humanitarian and human rights law, take feasible precautions to protect of civilians and enable immediate and unhindered humanitarian access. The Coalition remains committed to conducting the fight against ISIS in full respect of international law.
The territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria will mark a significant milestone in the war against ISIS, but does not mean our campaign against ISIS is over. Further engagement is needed in Iraq and Syria, where the terrorist group is still resilient. ISIS’s leadership, affiliates, and its supporters view its territorial losses in Iraq and Syria as a setback, not as defeat. In response, ISIS increasingly turns to insurgent tactics to try to destabilize Syria and Iraq. In parallel, ISIS focuses on increasing support to its worldwide branches and networks in order to carry forward the fight from more permissive locations, and on inspiring homegrown terrorists.
The Global Coalition remains committed to assist the new government to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. We welcome Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim as the senior-most representative of the new Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, and reaffirm our unwavering support to Iraq and its unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. We support the Government of Iraq’s efforts in building a professional and capable security force that is under the full control of the government, noting the considerable progress of the Iraqi Security Forces’ ability to conduct unilateral operations. The NATO Mission in Iraq aspires to enhance the capacity of the Iraqi national security forces, including in their fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Coalition looks to the Government of Iraq for its continued and expanded efforts to enhance local security, including for Iraq’s minorities, and to stabilize areas liberated from ISIS. The Coalition appreciates the considerable contributions and continued work of all those who contributed to hold ISIS accountable for its heinous crimes, and in particular honors Nadia Murad and recognizes Karim Khan, Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary-General. We encourage the Government of Iraq to persevere in its work fostering community-based reconciliation, strengthening the rule of law, increasing stabilization and investments, and paving the way to sustainable reconstruction in liberated areas as part of the Coalition’s broader efforts to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. Addressing the root causes of conflict will be key for long-term peace and stabilization, including through inclusive security forces and governance that meets the needs of all Iraqis. Furthermore, we invite the Government of Iraq to take necessary steps to facilitate the realization of the international commitments made during the February 2018 reconstruction conference in Kuwait.
We are committed to working with the Government of Iraq to continue denying ISIS sanctuary, preventing ISIS from dispersing its fighters, weapons, or resources and targeting ISIS facilitation networks. This includes providing support to Iraqi counterterrorism operations and continued support to the Government of Iraq to train a professional and capable Iraqi security force. In cooperation with key partners such as the United Nations, and together with the Government of Iraq, we are determined to address the remaining humanitarian, stabilization, and early recovery gaps to help local populations and conflict victims to recover, and thus minimize ISIS’s recruitment and resurgence ability. Ensuring ISIS members are held accountable for their crimes, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, in a manner that respects due process and the rule of law is critical to degrading the ISIS brand and combating ISIS’s depraved ideology. Furthermore, the Coalition condemns the ideologically-driven destruction and looting of archaeological sites and artefacts as ISIS attempted to erase and rewrite history. The Coalition celebrates the rich contributions that civilizations of the region have made to the world and acknowledges the value of recovery of cultural heritage as part of the stabilization process in Iraq.
The Coalition stands with the Syrian people in support of a genuine political transition based on the 2012 Geneva Communique and UN Security Council Resolution 2254, aimed at establishing an inclusive, non-sectarian government that represents the will of all Syrians, and upholding the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Syria. Where possible, we support inclusive local recovery and stabilization in areas liberated from ISIS and community-based dialogue and reconciliation efforts to foster conditions conducive to a Syria-wide political resolution to the Syria conflict. We will continue to focus on providing humanitarian and stabilization assistance, to improve the lives of vulnerable populations; help enable the safe and voluntary returns of refugees and displaced persons; and ensuring civilian protection and access to education, setting the path for sustainable recovery from ISIS occupation so that local communities can continue to rebuild with the extraordinary resolve, dignity, and resilience they have demonstrated since liberation.
We are also committed to addressing the security and legal issues posed by detained ISIS foreign terrorist fighters and ensuring that they never again return to the battlefield or relocate elsewhere to conduct attacks, recruit, train, or otherwise perpetuate ISIS’s ideology. The movement of battle-hardened foreign terrorist fighters to regions and continents as diverse as Southeast Asia and Africa is particularly troubling. Appropriate measures should be undertaken so that ISIS fighters and supporters are held accountable for their support or participation in ISIS’s terrorist campaign in accordance with applicable rules of international law. In aid of this effort, we will consider sharing fighter information and battlefield evidence more readily between Coalition partners either on a bilateral basis, or when possible, through global networks such as INTERPOL. Maximizing the possibility of prosecution must remain a global priority in respect of foreign terrorist fighters and others who have supported ISIS activity. For those detained foreign terrorist fighters that remain in the region, the Coalition should seek to enable their continued secure, fair, and humane detention. Finally, we should put more efforts into developing effective de-radicalization and reintegration programs.
In 2019, the Coalition expects to concentrate on implementing the Working Group action plans. With the conventional military effort against ISIS in Syria nearing culmination and shifting to a supporting rather than a central role, the Coalition members will open a discussion to plan the next phase of the campaign. This could involve an effort to counter ISIS’s reversion to insurgency in Syria and Iraq. It could also include, addressing ISIS’s trans-border networks, branches, and affiliates, which continue to present a significant, and in some cases, growing threat to the members of our Coalition as highlighted by the June 2018 Coalition meeting of Political Directors with a focus on Africa held in Skhirate, Morocco. In particular, the Coalition should remain united in its efforts to undermine ISIS’s brand by rolling back its access to the information space as a tool to spread its toxic ideology and propaganda. The Coalition is determined to increase the pressure to disrupt ISIS’s trans-regional network through increased information sharing and complementary efforts in counter-finance, strategic communication, law enforcement, the justice sector, and security for our homelands. Coalition Working Groups and members will strive to ensure that our goals are met across the broader diplomatic and counterterrorism ecosystem, and does not seek to duplicate existing mechanisms and lines of effort. The Coalition has gathered unique experience and information while fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria that can be of value to other international organizations and groupings combating terrorism.
We are gratified by the momentum collectively generated by the Coalition and its partners and once again express our determination to deliver ISIS an enduring defeat. Our joint engagement in Iraq and Syria will continue. We recognize the need for sustained coordination and consultation of the Coalition across all its lines of efforts and especially in the Core. The four Working Groups of the Coalition – Foreign Terrorist Fighters, Counter-ISIS Financing, Communications, and Stabilization – are essential, and we remain dedicated to their continued progress. With this in mind, we look forward to the Political Directors’ meeting in late spring and the regular meeting of the Coalition Working Groups in the year ahead.