Secretary Tillerson Addresses Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers opening remarks at the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers opening remarks at the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2017.

Secretary Tillerson Addresses Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson addressed the 68-member Global Coalition working to defeat ISIS. The goal of the Ministerial, which was held on March 22 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., was to accelerate international efforts to defeat ISIS in the remaining areas it holds in Iraq and Syria and maximize pressure on its branches, affiliates, and networks. The meeting also highlighted specific ways the Coalition can effectively collaborate to defeat ISIS globally.

In remarks during the plenary session of the Ministerial, Secretary Tillerson affirmed, “Together, we share a resolve to deal ISIS or Daesh a lasting defeat. Our coalition is united in stopping an ISIS resurgence, halting its global ambitions and discrediting its ideological narrative. And we’re ready to grow stronger and stay aggressive in this battle.”

Acknowledging that many of the countries represented at the Ministerial have suffered ISIS’s carnage firsthand, Secretary Tillerson asked all to honor the victims of these attacks with an unwavering dedication to victory. “The great commonality among we who have gathered today is a commitment to bringing down a global force of evil, and I emphasize the word “commitment.” The success of our mission depends on a continual devotion to our stated objective of defeating this terrorist organization,” Secretary Tillerson added.

Today’s Ministerial also served as a platform to discuss ways to address the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the prolonged conflict in the region. Secretary Tillerson shared, “In the run-up to this meeting, we identified over $2 billion in humanitarian, stabilization, and de-mining needs for liberated areas in Iraq and Syria for 2017. I’m pleased to announce that we have surpassed that total in dollar pledges.” He also asked all coalition partners to fulfill pledges to quickly disperse the funds we need to carry out operations for the rest of the year.

Recognizing the significant progress made by the Coalition in the last year and the meaningful financial contributions of its members, Secretary Tillerson urged coalition members to remain steadfast. “Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor, but we must increase the intensity of our efforts and solidify our gains in the next phase of the counter-ISIS fight. Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal. We must defeat ISIS.” 

Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the effort, emphasizing that, “defeating ISIS is the United States’ number one goal in the region,” and added, “We must continue to keep our focus on the most urgent matter at hand.”

Looking ahead at the next steps in the Coalition’s effort to defeat ISIS, Secretary Tillerson noted, “The expansion of ISIS has necessitated a large scale military response, and our offensive measures are reclaiming areas in Iraq and Syria in which ISIS has had a large and destructive footprint. Our end goal in this phase is the regional elimination of ISIS through military force.”

The Secretary continued, “We will continue to facilitate the return of people to their homes, and work with local political leadership. They will provide stable and fair governance, rebuild infrastructure, and provide essential services. We will use our diplomatic presence on the ground to facilitate channels of dialogue between local leadership and Coalition partners.”

Secretary Tillerson emphasized that a successful stabilization phase will set the stage for a successful normalization phase and that the Coalition’s effort will require sustained support from all members. “As we stabilize areas encompassing ISIS’s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, we also must prevent their seeds of hatred from taking root elsewhere. We must ensure ISIS cannot gain or maintain footholds in new regions of the world,” he urged.

While the Coalition’s military strength will stop ISIS on a battlefield, Secretary Tillerson acknowledged that the combined strength of our coalition “will be the final blow to ISIS.” In order to stay ahead of a global outbreak, he urged the adoption of the following countermeasures:

  • Persist with in-country counterterrorism and law enforcement operations to maintain pressure on ISIS’s networks within our own countries and take decisive law enforcement action to stop its growth;
  • Greater intelligence and information sharing within our own domestic intelligence agencies and among coalition member nations.
  • Call on Muslim partners and leaders of their faith to combat ISIS’s perverse ideological message.
  • Break ISIS’s ability to spread its message and recruit new followers online by fighting ISIS online as aggressively as we would on the ground.

In closing, Secretary Tillerson noted, “ISIS presents an ongoing challenge to our collective security, but as we have seen, it is not more powerful than we are when we stand together.”

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.

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