Terrorism

Jordan hosts post-ISIS stabilisation meeting

By Noor al-Saleh in Amman

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Jordan's King Abdullah delivers a speech as he opens a parliament session in Amman on Sunday (November 12th). The kingdom on Monday hosted a meeting of the international coalition that is battling the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria'. [Khalil Mazraawi/AFP]

Representatives from countries fighting the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) convened in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Monday (November 13th) to discuss ways to foster stability in the post-ISIS era.

The meeting of the Stability Support Group preceded a Wednesday meeting in Amman of the coalition's Small Group, which brings key members of the coalition together to co-ordinate and enhance combined efforts to counter ISIS.

The Monday meeting, co-chaired by the UAE and Germany, drew about 100 representatives from 32 countries and organisations.

It is the second meeting of the Stability Support Group, which is affiliated with the international coalition, that Jordan has hosted this year.

Jordan is a key regional stakeholder as it borders both Iraq and Syria.

"Jordan has been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of efforts to combat terrorism, which threatens the security and values of all of us," said Ambassador Nawaf al-Tal, adviser to the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates.

He stressed that political successes must be accompanied by humanitarian, developmental and political efforts.

Wide-ranging discussions

Meeting participants discussed developments in the military operations against ISIS in Iraq and efforts to consolidate stability, particularly in the Syrian city of al-Raqa, the Jordanian news agency, Petra, reported.

They also discussed the coalition's efforts to combat ISIS propaganda, humanitarian issues related to the liberation operations, and the provision of basic services to returning internally displaced persons (IDPs).

"Iraq looks forward to the international community’s support of the Iraqi government’s efforts to implement projects aimed at restoring stability," said Mahdi al-Allak, secretary general of the Iraqi Council of Ministers.

Iraq attaches great importance to the return of IDPs, healing social rifts, accelerating mine-removal processes and creating job opportunities for youth in liberated areas, he said.

Jordan and the UAE have been working to combat terrorism and promote stability projects, said UAE Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation for International Development Affairs, Sultan al-Shamsi.

The UAE granted $60 million to the UN Development Programme to implement stabilisation projects in liberated areas in Iraq, he said, noting that the UAE’s assistance to Iraqi IDPs over the past three years totaled $250 million.

"As the geographical presence of the ISIS terrorist gang in Iraq is about to be completely eliminated, civilian, security and humanitarian efforts must be implemented," said German Ambassador to Jordan Eckhard Broz.

Post-ISIS co-ordination

The meeting's timing is important, as the anti-ISIS coalition is keenly aware of the need for co-ordination in the post-ISIS phase, said Saud al-Sharafat, director of the Centre for Globalisation and Terrorism Studies in Amman.

"The meeting was held by one of the most important entities concerned with continuing the work aimed at achieving a political solution in Syria," said strategic security expert and researcher Omar al-Raddad.

It coincides with the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and precedes a meeting of the Syrian opposition to be held in Riyadh next week, he told Al-Mashareq.

The Riyadh meeting, set for November 22nd to 24th, is being convened at the request of opposition factions, and will aim to form a joint negotiating delegation to resume direct negotiations in Geneva under the auspices of the UN.

While the coalition has succeeded in defeating ISIS militarily in Iraq and Syria, defeating its ideology is still far from being achieved, al-Sharafat said.

"It would be far-fetched to say that terrorism or the group has been eradicated," he said, noting that ISIS's ideology transcends national or geographic borders.

Counter-terrorism policies have failed abysmally in addressing the ideological aspect and are heavily focused on the military aspect, he said.

'Deep concerns' about stability

Al-Raddad said Jordan is deeply concerned about the stability of Syria and Iraq.

The kingdom itself is experiencing a severe economic crisis, exacerbated by the closure of the borders with Syria and Iraq and the influx of more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees, he noted.

Only 40% of the needs of Syrian refugees have been met by the international community, he added.

"All the terrorist attacks that targeted Jordan since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, and the Iraqi crisis before it, were directly linked to those crises," he said.

During the Monday meeting, ambassador al-Tal affirmed Jordan's readiness to serve as "a gateway for stability and reconstruction projects in Iraq, especially as the al-Karama [Trebil] border crossing has reopened".

"Jordan is an active participant in the coalition, being the political actor most geopolitically vulnerable to the political conflict, violence and chaos at its borders with Iraq and Syria," al-Sharafat said.

For this reason, "it is concerned with any development that occurs on the ground, whether in Syria or Iraq", he added.

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