The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018
38 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL For its part, the Global Partner team in the Office of the Spe- cial Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (SECI) has kept its focus on the coalition members themselves. In close coordination with country desks and U.S. embassies abroad, SECI staff work to help partners understand ISIS, fol- low ISIS adaptations, share best practices, support reinforcing multilateral and bilateral efforts and share insights that might help them battle ISIS or the threat of ISIS in their homelands. We try to bring about a common understanding in ways that suggest practical and timely courses of action. To help us with this work, we enjoy the support of two partner embeds on the team, from the U.K. and Germany, and look forward to welcoming a third, from Australia, soon. A Collective Effort Trying to keep ahead of ISIS is, of course, a collective effort. And our partners have shown remarkable leadership and initia- tive, both under the auspices of the coalition and on their own. The co-leads for our Communications Working Group (the U.K., U.S. and UAE) have stood up a network of messaging centers that span the globe and help countries and individuals fight back against the falsehoods ISIS so effectively delivers through its media operations. Saudi Arabia, co-lead of the Counter-ISIS Finance Working Group , has established a multilateral Terrorist Financing Target- ing Center with the support of the U.S. Treasury Department, as well as the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. Italy, another co-lead, has helped shape our response to Islamic State’s looting of antiquities, and has led our efforts to train the “hold” forces that provide the first layer of the rule of law to communities liberated from ISIS. Treasury and State have also worked together to help our military target Islamic State’s oil revenue and bulk cash sites in Iraq and Syria, to spectacular effect. Our Counter-Foreign Ter- rorist Fighter Working Group has benefited greatly fromDutch and U.S. efforts to cross-fertilize the work of that group with the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum and to promote information sharing through INTERPOL and other avenues. Coalition stabilization efforts in Iraq and Syria deserve special recognition. To meet the needs of communities liberated from ISIS, the international community pio- neered a new model of stabilization in partnership with the Iraqi gov- ernment and the United Nations— the Funding Facility for Stabilization. This Iraqi-directed, coalition-funded, U.N.-coordinated effort has facilitated the return to their homes of more than two million Iraqis displaced by ISIS since 2014. StabilizationWorking Group co-leads Germany and the UAE have also worked closely with Washington to plan and fund early recovery work in areas liberated from ISIS in Syria, where the situ- ation on the ground is significantly more complex than in Iraq. The Fight Is Not Yet Over While it may have seemed obvious in the heat of the moment back in 2014 that the United States, with its military might and its breadth of political relationships, should lead a group of countries in the fight against ISIS for three full years, it is not as obvious why so many countries would stay with us going forward. Yet our partners have said repeatedly that while they, like us, do not know exactly what lies ahead after the ISIS loss of territory (the so-called “caliphate”) in Iraq and Syria, they also do not want the coalition to end. Looking ahead, the coalition and its leadership are at a turning point. Even as ISIS loses the last bits of its territory in Iraq and Syria, there is an ongoing need to take the group’s global ambitions seriously and monitor the evolving threat it poses. Much depends on what happens next. If ISIS falls apart, that would vindicate those who believe that control of its “core” ter- ritory was central to the group’s existence. This may not happen. Should ISIS continue to pose a threat to both our homelands and our values, the coalition will need to adapt and perhaps even strengthen its approach. But will the coalition continue to be the central vehicle through which the nations of the world choose to maintain pressure on ISIS, or will other institutions or avenues come to the fore? At its heart, the Global Coalition is a coalition of the willing, and it will thrive under U.S. leadership if we continue to do our best to understand the threat, share and develop that under- standing with our partners, and support one another in our individual and collective efforts to defeat ISIS. n While the military effort, Operation Inherent Resolve, is run by the U.S. Central Command, it is important to recognize that most of the coalition is not active in that aspect of the campaign.