Members of the global coalition against the Islamic State met Monday to discuss future steps in the fight against this extremist group, as the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan.
This meeting took place just one day after U.S. airstrikes were launched against Iran-backed militias at the Iraq-Syria border
The meeting was co-chaired by Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary for State, and Luigi Di Maio, the Italian Foreign Minister. Participants took stock of the current efforts to defeat IS. IS remnants remain a threat in Syria and Iraq, and are showing signs of growing in other parts of Africa.
The coalition hopes to stabilize areas freed from IS, repatriate foreign fighters and hold them accountable for their actions, and fight extremist messaging.
Blinken, Di Maio and other representatives from the 77 countries and five organisations that make up the coalition urged them to remain vigilant.
Di Maio stated, “We need to accelerate the action taken in the coalition, increasing our areas of operation.”
He said that there was an “alarming” increase in IS activity outside of Syria and Iraq. This included the Sahel and Mozambique, the Horn of Africa, and Mozambique. He called on the coalition to establish a special mechanism for dealing with the threat to Africa.
Blinken pointed out that even though they were defeated, IS elements in Syria and Iraq “still aspire” to carry out large-scale attacks.
He stated, “Together we must remain as committed to our stability goals as we were to our military campaign which resulted in victory at the battlefield.”
Blinken announced that the United States would contribute $436 million more to aid displaced Syrians and other countries. He also called for an increased effort to repatriate, rehabilitate and prosecute some 10,000 IS fighters still held by the Syrian Defense Forces.
Blinken stated that the situation was “simply untenable”. It can’t continue indefinitely,” Blinken stated.
Blinken also announced sanctions on OusmaneIlliassouDjibo, who is a Niger native and is a leader of the Islamic State affiliate within the greater Sahara. Djibo was declared a global terrorist. This means that all of his U.S. assets are frozen and Americans cannot do business with him.
The meeting was not only about IS but also included foreign ministers from countries that are concerned about the wider conflict in Syria. This was ahead of a crucial U.N vote on maintaining a humanitarian aid corridor to Turkey. Russia has refused to reauthorize the channel due to stalled peace negotiations between the Syrian government & rebel groups.
Two U.S. officials claimed that Blinken stated to the Syria conference that the U.S. believes that the corridor should be reauthorized, and expanded in order to prevent further deaths. Officials spoke under condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss private diplomatic conversations. They said that Blinken had made it clear that any U.S. and Russia cooperation in Syria would depend on Moscow granting the extension. Russia was not present at the meeting.
Geir PEDerson, U.N. special representative for Syria, stated last week that there are worrying signs that the Islamic State is growing stronger in Syria and called for more cooperation to combat it. Pederson also supports international negotiations to end the civil war in Syria.
Many high-level meetings aimed to end the fighting and guide the country towards a political transition failed since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in March 2011. A 2015 Security Council resolution that endorses a road map for peace in Syria, which calls for a new constitution and U.N.-supervised election, was supported by the U.N., U.S. and Russia.
Blinken also met with Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy and President Sergio Mattarella Monday. He praised the state of U.S.–European relations and noted that only NATO, the Group of Seven, and the European Union are members Italy, France, and Germany, which he visited during his current European tour.
He said, “We share a deep dedication to promoting democracy & human rights.” “We see the same major challenges ahead. We also recognize that they are not possible to tackle alone.
Blinken, Di Maio and others downplayed differences over China between the U.S.A. and Italy and said that there was an increasing awareness about the dangers and complexities of dealing with Beijing.