The United States will continue to lead the fight against ISIS

Mike Pompeo

November 15, 2019

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The United States will continue to lead the fight against ISIS
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You all know we must keep taking the fight to ISIS.  So do we.  The United States will continue to lead the Coalition, and the world, on this essential security effort.

That leadership under President Trump began right after he took office.  I had a different job at the time.  He went out to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters the very first day, less than 24 hours after he was inaugurated, and he pledged his support for whatever the agency needed to take out Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the entire caliphate.

And a few months later, he empowered American military commanders to pursue the fight more aggressively than ever.

We’ve repositioned some of our troops in northeast Syria and in the broader region as well, to make sure that ISIS will never get a second wind and to prevent ISIS from recapturing the oil fields.

Our troops did that, in conjunction with many of you in this room – partners and friends and the Coalition.  We did it both on the ground and in the air in Iraq and Syria.  The caliphate was 100 percent destroyed in March of this year.  We should all be very proud of that.

Our diplomats here at the State Department, too, have worked with you all as members of the Coalition to stabilize liberated areas, get humanitarian relief to its destinations, and make sure that ISIS cannot gain new footholds.

American leadership continues on each of these missions today.

Last month, we achieved what the President talked about that day:  We took out al-Baghdadi and his would-be successor.  Ask each of them whether there’s a deficit in American leadership countering ISIS.

Today we’re watching the space once occupied by this fraudulent caliphate like a hawk.  That’s why we’re maintaining our residual presence at Tanf, in southern Syria, and our capacity to conduct air operations.

We’ve repositioned some of our troops in northeast Syria and in the broader region as well, to make sure that ISIS will never get a second wind and to prevent ISIS from recapturing the oil fields.

We’ve gotten assurances from Coalition partners and our partners on the ground on their responsibility for foreign fighters, and we’ll hold them to account.

We’re also maintaining humanitarian assistance and stabilization programs to ameliorate the conditions in which ISIS would re-emerge.

And we’re continuing to pursue a diplomatic resolution of the Syrian conflict with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 as the guide so that stability can, one day, return to this war-torn land.

The fight against ISIS is a long-term test of will, a test of civilization against barbarism.  I know where we all stand.  Let’s work together to make sure that our enemy knows that, too.  Thank you, again, for coming and for all your contributions past, current, and future.

I’m proud of the work that my team has done and what the Trump administration achieved.  But you all know – it’s why we’re here today – this is not our story alone.

This Coalition – the group assembled here today – has been one of the most successful multilateral undertakings of the century.  We beat back a jihadist dream – a would-be terror state in the center of the Middle East – and we saved millions of people from tyranny, unlike anything that the world has seen.

And our good work continues with our stabilization and recovery efforts.  We’re working with women like Samia, a mother of five and a beneficiary and employee of a Coalition-funded, Iraqi-led stabilization initiative.

She and others conduct quick rehabilitation of essential infrastructure, and in one instance, a primary school in Mosul.

Samia is proud to help Iraqis get past the ISIS nightmare.  This progress has been possible thanks to the United States and 27 other Coalition partners’ provision of more than $1.2 billion to fund the more than 3,000 stabilization projects in 31 liberated towns and districts across Iraq.

Stories like Samia’s show that it is a worthy investment.

But we can’t stop now.  We must make sure that ISIS never again flourishes.

That work begins with carrying out justice against those who deserve it.  Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody and impose accountability for the atrocities that they have perpetrated.

Our efforts to help displaced Iraqis helped facilitate the safe and voluntary return of more than 4.3 million civilians in – since April of 2015.  We want them all to return home.  That’s why the Coalition needs to fulfill the significant UNDP Funding Facility for Stabilization shortfall to restore essential services and refurbish critical infrastructure.  We’ll all need help in the northeast of Syria as well.

Lastly, there’s a growing concern about the ISIS threat outside of Iraq and Syria.

Recently, we agreed at the working level that West Africa and the Sahel would be a preferred initial area of focus for the Coalition outside of the ISIS core space – and with good reason.  ISIS is outpacing the ability of regional governments and international partners to address that threat.

We’re planning a Coalition meeting that will focus on specific support that partners can provide across that region.

Know this:  That work will not – that initiative will not – detract from the mission ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  It will complement existing military efforts.  And we will develop and coordinate our efforts in close cooperation with countries of the Sahel.

The fight against ISIS is a long-term test of will, a test of civilization against barbarism.  I know where we all stand.  Let’s work together to make sure that our enemy knows that, too.  Thank you, again, for coming and for all your contributions past, current, and future.

(US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s statement at the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Small Group Ministerial in Washington DC)

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