Tillerson says the fight against the Islamic State is far from over


Tillerson says the fight against the Islamic State is far from over

KUWAIT CITY – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday described the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq as far from incomplete and announced $200 million in new U.S. aid to stabilize war-torn communities so residents can return home.“The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Tillerson said at an international conference of countries that banded together against the Islamic State, which also is commonly known by the acronym ISIS. “ISIS remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands and other parts of the globe.”Tillerson spoke at a meeting of his counterparts from more than 70 countries that contributed militarily or financially in ousting Islamic State militants from virtually all of their declared caliphate Iraq and Syria. His goal is to encourage them to focus on fighting extremists in the region and elsewhere, and not be distracted by regional rivalries and disputes.He also will attend a conference to raise money for rebuilding Iraq. At least $88 billion is needed to restore essential services so refugees and internally displaced persons can return home.Tillerson is expected to announce a package worth more than $3 billion from the Export-Import Bank, including loans, loan guarantees and insurance to seed American investment in Iraq. The new infusion of U.S. money and support comes a day after President Donald Trump suggested the United States already has spent too much in the region, tweeting, “After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”The meetings in Kuwait hold particular resonance. The country is awash with flags and lights leading up to Liberation Day on Feb. 26, the 27th anniversary of country’s independence from Iraq after the first Gulf War. But now, even the oil-rich nations of the Gulf are a little more cost-conscious, after years of low oil prices.The United States has spent about $60 billion to help rebuild Iraq. In addition, it has spent $7.7 billion on humanitarian aid alone for Syria. Tillerson characterized the money, and more, as an essential investment to keep extremists at bay.“If communities in Iraq and Syria cannot return to normal life, we risk the return of conditions that allowed ISIS to take root,” Tillerson said. “We must continue to clear unexploded remnants of war left behind by ISIS, enable hospitals to reopen, restore water and electricity services and get boys and girls back in school.”He said the United States and other countries must work together to counter foreign fighters fleeing Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State’s financing networks and its online recruiting.“In places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, West Africa and others, it is trying to carve out safe havens,” Tillerson said of the militant group. “We have seen in Iraq and Syria the consequences of an ISIS territorial presence. History must not be allowed to repeat itself elsewhere.”Tillerson previewed talks he will hold Friday in Ankara. Turkey is upset over U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria who have been effective battling Islamic State fighters. The Turks consider them an offshoot of a group known as the PKK, which has been conducting an armed struggle inside Turkey for independence for decades. Turkey has launched an air and ground offensive in northwest Syria against a U.S.-allied Kurdish group.As the region still bristles with war, Tillerson called for a renewed focus on defeating the Islamic State, de-escalating the conflict and protecting civilians.“We are keenly aware of the legitimate security concerns of Turkey, our coalition partner and NATO ally,” he said. “We will continue to be completely transparent with Turkey about our efforts in Syria to defeat ISIS, and we stand by our NATO ally in its counterterrorism efforts.”
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
Tillerson says the fight against the Islamic State is far from over

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