Global Coalition 2019 projections
Recently, I attended the Coalition co-leads meeting, which is for the partners leading the Coalition’s five lines of effort .We rotate locations, but this time we were hosted in Washington DC by the NESA centre the Department of Defence’s regional centre geared towards international security cooperation in the Near East and South Asia (NESA).
This is a critical, high level meeting where representatives from partner co-lead countries gather to review progress on the ground, assess the ongoing threat, and agree on the future direction of the coalition. The message is later redirected to all 79 Coalition partners for negotiation and agreement.
It isn’t one of those straightforward diplomatic “bowtie” meetings. Discussions are very frank and debates are hot. The teams discuss every aspect of the challenge across all five lines of effort and get into the nitty gritty details. All teams roll up their sleeves and put what they have on the table.
If I were to give a short summary of the key takeaways, I would say:
A lot has been accomplished. Daesh has lost over 99% of the land it once occupied and nearly 8 million people have been liberated due to the work of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the Coalition’s military efforts. The threat is now changing and becoming harder to detect. Daesh has currently reverted to more clandestine activities, changing its combat tactics and working underground from caves and tunnels that it built as hide-outs in the desert.
Also, while Daesh’s revenue has been reduced enormously, it is channelling still available funds through new mechanisms. This has challenged the counter-finance teams that are working on this line of effort to find new ways to disrupt it (some reports say that in its hey-day it was making 2-3 million US dollars a day). In fact, according to Forbes, Daesh has lost over 90% of its wealth over the last three years, from 2-3 billion in 2014 to 200 million US dollars in 2017. However, we believe the group’s remaining reserves are sufficient to support its new clandestine structure.
Significant progress has been made but Daesh remains a global threat. This is why we must continue to work towards defeating it as it transforms and develops new tactics. The Coalition must remain astute and stay one step ahead by developing diverse, dynamic and modern mechanisms to deny Daesh of any capability.
Thankfully, the majority of displaced people in Iraq have managed to return to their hometowns. United Nations figures show over 4 million Iraqis have now gone back to liberated areas to start the process of building their communities and regaining their life. The returnees in liberated areas of Syria are fewer, but we are seeing progress there as well.
The Coalition has moved from 12 partners in September 2014 to 79 partners today with the most recent partner joining last October. The Coalition continues to grow and unity is stronger than ever before. Through modern forms of diplomacy and state-of-the-art connectivity, we have demonstrated what we can achieve by working together to tackle a common threat to ensure our security is safeguarded.
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