US stresses key Saudi role in crushing Daesh

Special US stresses key Saudi role in crushing Daesh
Brett McGurk, US representative to the anti-Daesh coalition
Updated 31 December 2017

US stresses key Saudi role in crushing Daesh

US stresses key Saudi role in crushing Daesh

NEW YORK: A senior official from the Trump administration noted Saudi Arabia’s regional stewardship and online anti-terror efforts on Friday in a year-end message about defeating the extremist group Daesh across Iraq and Syria.
In a letter to members of the 74-nation anti-Daesh coalition, Brett McGurk, the special US presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said the group was on the back foot but warned there is “much left to do in 2018.”
“The US is prepared to remain in Syria until we are certain that ISIS (Daesh) is defeated, stabilization efforts can be sustained, and there is meaningful progress in the Geneva-based political process,” said McGurk.
The envoy of US President Donald Trump pointed to a $300 million funding shortfall for stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq, saying money and other concerns need to be addressed at a coalition meeting in Kuwait City in early 2018.
Iraq’s reconstruction will be buoyed by international agencies and a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which saw a border crossing open for trade between the two countries in August for the first time since 1990, he said.
McGurk also singled out Saudi Arabia, the UAE and two other countries for being at the “forefront in combating ISIS in cyberspace,” including via the Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – known as Etidal, which means “moderation.”
“The innovative work of the Sawab Center in UAE and the Etidal Center in Saudi Arabia now eclipses extremist content and exposes ISIS’ lies,” added McGurk.
Also on Friday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he expected to see a larger US civilian presence in Syria, including contractors and diplomats, as the fight against Daesh neared its end and the focus turned toward rebuilding and ensuring the militants do not return.
“What we will be doing is shifting from what I would call an offensive, shifting from an offensive terrain-seizing approach to a stabilizing ... you’ll see more US diplomats on the ground,” Mattis told reporters in Washington.
Mattis previously stated that US forces will stay in Syria as long as Daesh fighters want to fight and prevent the return of an “ISIS 2.0.” His remarks on Friday underscored that the US has no immediate plans to remove troops from Syria despite pressure from the Russians to do just that.