The Kingdom of Belgium and the United States hosted a meeting of senior diplomatic representatives from the Small Group of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS yesterday in Brussels. Belgian Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès, and U.S. Acting Special Envoy for the Global Coalition John Godfrey opened the meeting by updating partners on the continued progress against ISIS/Daesh in Iraq and Syria, as well as ISIS affiliates and branches around the globe. They also both welcomed Burkina Faso as the 84th member of the Coalition.
Special Envoy Godfrey noted the Coalition’s focus on preventing a resurgence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and expressed continued support for leveraging the Coalition’s efforts against growing ISIS threats elsewhere, with a focus on ISIS affiliates in sub-Saharan Africa and in Afghanistan. Italian Senior Deputy Political Director Luca Franchetti Pardo and Special Envoy Godfrey and announced the establishment of the Coalition’s Africa Focus Group, with Morocco and Niger joining the United States and Italy as the inaugural co-chairs of the group. The Africa Focus Group will enable the Coalition to undertake civilian capacity-building programs to help address the ISIS threat across Africa, and to synchronize those efforts with existing initiatives on the ground.
Regarding Iraq, Coalition partners expressed support for recent Iraqi elections and ongoing efforts to form a new government, with which the Coalition looks forward to continuing its strategic partnership in the continued fight against ISIS. The Coalition remains committed to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces, including the Peshmerga, to address current and future threats.
Regarding Syria, Special Envoy Godfrey expressed the Coalition’s continued commitment to the Defeat-ISIS campaign alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces and other partner forces who continue to address the threat posed by the group. The Coalition is committed to stabilization and economic development in areas liberated from ISIS, and to addressing the serious security challenges of ISIS fighters detained in northeast Syria, and family members in displaced persons camps. Coalition partners applauded efforts by the Government of Iraq to repatriate ISIS detainees and their families, and Special Envoy Godfrey urged other countries of origin to repatriate, rehabilitate, and where appropriate, prosecute foreign terrorist fighters.
Coalition partners thanked the co-leads of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition’s Communications, Foreign Terrorist Fighters, and Stabilization Working Groups for accelerating their recent meetings to focus discussions on ISIS-Khorasan and the threat it poses. Coalition partners thanked the Kingdom of Belgium for the warm hospitality and precautions taken in challenging circumstances, with particular gratitude expressed to Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs Director General Axel Kenes, Ambassador Nicolas Nihon, and their teams, for their dedicated efforts.
The Coalition remains united and resolved in its determination to achieve the enduring defeat of Daesh/ISIS wherever it operates, and to bringing those responsible for its abuses to justice.