「イスラム国」 弱体化へ国際社会は結束せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Intl community must unite in resolve to undermine ISIL’s strength
「イスラム国」 弱体化へ国際社会は結束せよ

To weaken and eventually eliminate a brutal extremist organization, the international community must work together to tighten its noose around it.

One year has passed since U.S. forces launched airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

As a result of about 6,000 air raids carried out by the United States and an international “coalition of the willing” in Iraq and Syria so far, more than 15,000 ISIL fighters, including some of its leaders, have been killed. Some crude oil facilities, a major source of revenue for the ISIL, and its military installations have been destroyed.

Although the air raids have achieved some military gains, prospects for a complete victory over the ISIL remain questionable.

The recruitment of fighters by the ISIL continues, and there is no sign the strength of the extremist group — believed to be between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters — is weakening. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city captured by the ISIL last year, remains under its rule. Its fighting methods, such as suicide assaults, are reportedly getting more extreme.

The menace of extremist groups aligned with the ISIL has spread alarmingly not only throughout the Middle East and Africa but also South Asia and Russia.

Multifaceted, tenacious endeavors are imperative to stamp out the ISIL. United efforts to address this challenge by the countries concerned must be strengthened even more.

The airstrike operations are fraught with many difficulties, such as how to distinguish targets that are hiding among civilians. To make the operations effective, deployment of ground troops is a prerequisite, and the United States has been exerting efforts toward this end by training local forces.

Turkish role key factor

Prospective local troops trained by the U.S. forces, however, number no more than 11,000 or so in Iraq and a few dozen in Syria. Training more local troops is urgently needed.

The United States has been looking for ways to restructure its strategy, as exemplified by an agreement with Turkey, a country bordering Syria, to expand air raids against the ISIL.

Earlier, it was noted that Turkey, after placing top priority on ousting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has assumed a lukewarm attitude in responding to the ISIL. Recently, however, Turkey allowed U.S. bombers to use an air base located in Turkey, and that base has been used by U.S. drones to make sorties for the first time.

With the aim of beefing up pressure on Raqqa, the key ISIL stronghold in northern Syria, U.S. forces are poised to conduct intensive air raids targeting ISIL fighters near the Turkish border. Attention should be focused on whether the planned air raids will prove to be the first step to turning around the course of the war.

To stem the inflow of fighters and weapons for the ISIL across the Turkish border, bolstering surveillance at the border, which stretches more than 900 kilometers, is important.

A problem in this connection is that Turkey has begun attacking minority ethnic Kurds in Iraq and Syria. This campaign is aimed at the possibility of those Kurds collaborating with Kurdish antigovernment armed groups operating in Turkey.

Weakening the influence of the Kurds that have been playing a part in the fight to eradicate the ISIL will undermine the effort to contain it. Turkey should exercise self-restraint in this respect.

In addition, improvement of the human rights situation in the conflict-racked region is a matter of urgency. In July, the Japanese government decided to provide about ¥1.2 billion in emergency assistance to Iraq — about 3.1 million Iraqis are internally displaced people. Japan must fulfill its responsibility in fields other than military affairs.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 9, 2015)

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