By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2014 – With the NATO summit in Wales as the backdrop, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with allies and partners today to discuss the threat posed to Iraq, the region and the international community by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“We and the ministers agreed here today that there is no time to waste in building a broad international coalition to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy the threat posed by ISIL,” Kerry and Hagel said in a joint statement issued after the meeting.
The formation of a new and inclusive government in Iraq will be a critical step in this effort, they said. “We are hopeful that this process can be completed over the coming days,” they added, “and we discussed in detail how NATO allies can extend immediate support to a new government in its efforts to unify the country against ISIL.”
Multiple lines of effort
To be effective, an international coalition to defeat ISIL must coordinate across multiple lines of effort, the statement said. These include:
-- Military support to Iraqi partners;
-- Stopping the flow of foreign fighters;
-- Countering ISIL's financing and funding;
-- Addressing humanitarian crises; and
-- De-legitimizing ISIL's ideology.
“We discussed each of these lines of effort today, and how to build on the contributions that many NATO allies and partners are already making in Iraq,” the statement said. “We agreed to engage in an immediate conversation with a new Iraqi government about accelerating these efforts, including the potential for additional training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces at the federal, regional and provincial level.”
The meeting also included discussion of further cooperation to address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, and noted the shared effort by the military forces of the United States, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom to deliver humanitarian supplies to the citizens of Amerli in northern Iraq, the statement said.
“This town had been surrounded for two months by ISIL, but today is receiving humanitarian aid and supplies led by a UN team on the ground,” Kerry and Hagel said in their statement. “Such a common effort will be essential as we move forward.”
Security Council resolution
The two Cabinet officials said that they and the ministers noted the strong Chapter 7 United Nations Security Council Resolution enacted last month that calls on all member states to take decisive action to stop the flow of foreign fighters, counter ISIL's financing and combat its incitement. “We agreed today that NATO allies in particular should work in concert towards these goals,” they said.
Specifically, they added, a multinational task force will be formed to share more information about the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and from Syria into Iraq. “These foreign fighters represent an acute threat to our NATO allies,” the statement said. “We also agreed to work in concert to stifle ISIL's sources of revenue, including any trade in petroleum products, and hold accountable those who violate international prohibitions on such trade.”
The secretaries noted that President Barack Obama has said the effort to degrade and destroy the threat posed by ISIL will take time and persistence. “It will also require a unified approach at the international, regional and local level combining military, law enforcement, intelligence, economic and diplomatic tools,” they added. “Our NATO allies and partners today have confirmed their readiness to be a full part of this coordinated approach, and over the coming days, we will continue the discussion with our partners in the region, who have an important role to play across these lines of effort.”
The effort will be a focus of the U.N. General Assembly, whose 69th session will convene Sept. 16 at U.N. Headquarters in New York, where Kerry and Hagel said work would continue to establish a truly global coalition.
“Acting together, with clear objectives and common purpose, we will degrade and destroy ISIL capabilities and ensure that it can no longer threaten Iraq, the region, and the world,” they added.
NATO leaders weigh in
At the NATO summit this morning, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the principal foundations of global security are being challenged in a way the alliance has not seen since the end of the Cold War.
“In a dangerous world,” he added, “we must continue to respond to these multiple challenges with unity and with strength. We must ensure that NATO remains ready, able and willing to defend all Allies against any threat.”
NATO will ensure it the right forces and equipment in the right place for as long as required, the secretary general said.
In his remarks this morning, Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, which hosted the summit, also addressed new and evolving dangers.
“To the east, Russia is ripping up the rulebook with its annexation of Crimea and its troops on sovereign soil in Ukraine. To the south, an arc of instability bends from North Africa to the Middle East. Last night we discussed the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria,” he said.
NATO members are united in their condemnation of what he called barbaric and despicable acts, Cameron added.
“They should be very clear, these terrorists: their threats will only harden our resolve to stand up for our values and to defeat them,” he said. “To do so - and to deal with all the threats we face - our great alliance must now evolve and refocus on the new capabilities that we need to keep our people safe.”
One of the changes needed, he said, is for NATO to extend its partnerships and build a more effective security network that fosters stability around the world.
“To do this, NATO must become not just an organization that has capability but an exporter of capability,” Cameron said. “I hope we can agree to use our expertise to provide training and mentoring of forces in Jordan and Georgia, and also in Iraq when the new government has been established.”