Minister of Defense & Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Participate in Counter-ISIL Meeting
7/22/2016
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ignacio Ybáñez, participated in a meeting of foreign ministers of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL that took place in Washington on July 20 and 21. For the first time, the Coalition brought together foreign and defense ministers as a continuation of the foreign affairs meetings that took place in Rome and Brussels last February.

On the 20th, the meeting, focused on defense ministers, included the reassurance by Defense Minister Pedro Morenés that Spain’s commitment of armed forces shall continue, and will be strengthened as soon as the new Spanish government is formed. Spanish forces committed to training, as well as the rest of the coalition, should expand their efforts in order to advance the liberation of areas under the control of Daesh, to form local police forces, to help with medical training, and run demining and counter explosive training operations. Overall, the Coalition must promote tools that raise the morale and prestige of Iraqi security forces so that they may become a key element for the reconstruction of their society and communities. 

The meeting on the 21st focused more on foreign affairs. Throughout the day foreign and defense ministers discussed with special attention the situation in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, and the global fight against Daesh. 

During the meeting ministers discussed in detail the priorities of each goal of the Coalition: military assistance, countering illicit finance, foreign terrorists, communication, and the stabilization of liberated areas. Since the liberation of Fallujah and other areas in the Anbar province by Iraqi forces, and progress towards the liberation of Manbiy in Syria, participants shall attempt to maintain the impetus on the complete and irreversible defeat of Daesh, including the liberation of the cities of Raqqa in Syria, and Mosul in Iraq. 

Spain is a committed member of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, that is currently made up of 63 countries. Spain is also included in a Small Group which is made up of the 21 most active members of the Coalition. 

In terms of military assistance, Spain has deployed 300 soldiers to train units of the Iraqi Security Forces. To date, 5,000 Iraqi soldiers have received training from the Spanish forces. 

Spain brings to the table its extensive experience in countering illicit financing of terrorism and money laundering. Spain also offers advanced legislation to the Coalition Group on Countering Illicit Financing of Daesh which would deny Daesh access to financial institutions, cut off pending investments from external contributors, and block petroleum and other forms of contraband. 

On the topic of countering the recruitment of foreign terrorists, Spain notably cosponsored United Nations Security Council measure 2178. Spain has also actively participated in the Global Counterterrorism Forum, contributing its legislation by means of reforming article 571 and the following penal statues; especially articles 575 and 577 which sanction or otherwise punish those caught supporting Daesh actively or passively. 

Spain collaborates with the Coalition on communications, coordinating its messages with other members in order to counteract violent Daesh messages, or messages otherwise contrary to the idea of peace. Spain promotes the collaboration and mutual recognition between communities with various or no religions, and participates in the development of content for the website of the Coalition (http://www.theglobalcoalition.org).

For Spain, the situation in Libya is especially troubling because of Libya’s location in the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, and because of the lack of one central authority. 

Even though Daesh has suffered military losses in their petroleum development, and in the city of Sirte in the past months, a total and irreversible defeat will only be possible if Libya is able to find a solution to its political crisis. 

A political solution is urgent, but has not come to fruition despite the efforts of U.N special representative Martin Kobler. 

It is imperative that the Presidential Council takes the necessary decisions as soon as possible to exercise the mandate that was created by the Libyan Political Accord. The Accord is the only roadmap for reconciliation accepted by the Libyan people that, with the help of the international community, and especially by the countries closest to Libya, can preserve the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the country. 

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