The Coalition’s objectives have been to inflict serious damage on ISIS; to destroy the caliphate; and to end the group’s ability to conduct and inspire terrorist attacks inside and outside Iraq and Syria. We have made significant progress, and we should remain focused on these objectives.
Australia continues to play a major part in this effort, with over 1000 military personnel conducting and supporting air operations and training. We have undertaken over 2,000 sorties and trained 20,000 Iraqi security force personnel. We have provided and committed over $500 million in humanitarian and stabilisation assistance.
We must ensure security gains in Iraq and Syria are lasting and that ISIS is unable to establish an enduring global network. There will be no peace in Iraq without political reconciliation or in Syria without a political solution.
We need to help the Iraqi Government provide emergency assistance to displaced populations, get them home and restore services. There must be national and local level reconciliation to overcome past divisions and deliver inclusive governance. The law must be applied equally and justly to all citizens.
In Syria the Coalition must stay focused on ISIS. However, a solution needs to be found for the wider conflict otherwise it will continue to act as an incubator of terrorism and extremism.
All nations with influence and interests have a key role to play in reaching that solution. Policies fomenting religious extremism and sectarianism exacerbate the situation and provide fertile ground in which extremists can recruit.
Regional countries must de-escalate tensions and stop pursuing proxy conflicts, particularly in Syria, to further their geo-political objectives. We are not doing enough to counter the perverse ideas and narrative of ISIS. Our challenge is to ensure these ideas are pushed to the fringes of our societies. There must be more Muslim moderate voices drowning out the extremists.
Pursuing policies that promote economic growth and job creation are also key to countering alienation and reducing the allure of extremism. Creating a stable governance environment and competitive economies is critical to attracting the private sector investment necessary for driving economic prosperity and job opportunities.
As ISIS is squeezed in the Middle East, there will be new challenges, including in Southeast Asia. Australia is intensifying cooperation with our Southeast Asian partners to tackle returning foreign fighters and ISIS inspired attacks in our region.
We have been helping Southeast Asia nations disrupt terrorist attacks, contest radicalisation and recruitment, and counter the efforts of ISIS to raise and transfer terrorist funds.
We must ensure our focus on combating ISIS is unrelenting globally so that we do not have to come back here in coming years to talk about defeating a caliphate in some other part of the world.
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