To stop vicious terrorism by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group, it is inevitable to carry out operations to eliminate it. Countries concerned must closely work together under U.S. initiatives and speed up the destruction of the group.
A ministerial meeting of the U.S.-led coalition has been held with representatives including those from 68 countries and territories participating in the coalition attended the meeting. The ministerial statement described ISIL as a “global threat” and emphasized, “We remain firmly united … to eliminate [ISIL].”
It is no small significance that the meeting was called by the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, who advocates the idea of “America first,” with cooperation confirmed among the coalition members. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who presided over the meeting, expressed strong determination to eliminate ISIL.
ISIL has controlled parts of Iraq and Syria since 2014. It is positive news that local forces assisted by the coalition have regained about 60 percent of areas once held by ISIL in Iraq and about 30 percent in Syria.
The Iraqi forces’ operation to take control of Mosul, a strategic point in the north, has entered the final stage. Suicide attacks and other resistance must be contained.
What holds the key to the destruction of ISIL is the liberation of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, a city that ISIL calls its capital. The United States is considering sending more special operations troops and intensifying airstrikes. We urge the United States to quickly formulate strategies and put them into action.
Japan must continue support
ISIL has spread its radical beliefs through the internet and stirred up indiscriminate terrorism in the United States and Europe. Most recently, a terrorist attack that ISIL is suspected to have had involvement in occurred in central London, killing and injuring many people.
In the ministerial statement, the coalition put forward ideas of intensifying its efforts against ISIL’s propaganda on the internet and sharing information on terrorists. The coalition also listed as tasks assistance for the reconstruction of liberated areas and the promotion of the return of refugees.
It is difficult to eliminate radical beliefs and terrorism only by military force. It is necessary for the international community to be involved in the long term and come up with a way to provide funds in order to achieve local political stability and improve people’s lives. Japan also needs to continue its contributions, including humanitarian assistance and educational support.
A concerning aspect is the action and intentions of Russia, which distances itself from the coalition. It has carried out military intervention in the Syrian civil war and supports the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad. Russia is also taking the initiative in Syria truce talks. It is certain that Russia is putting importance on increasing its influence in the Middle East, rather than destroying terrorist groups.
Trump had a vision to proceed with operations to eliminate ISIL in cooperation with Russia. However, since Trump has faced strong domestic criticism over the scandal involving collusive ties between Trump’s aides and Russia, his plan of cooperating with Russia has stalled.
We urge Trump to make efforts to bridge the gap in the views between the United States and Russia, while putting the coalition consisting mainly of U.S. allies at the core of antiterrorism strategies.