Only a coordinated strategy and cooperation will defeat Islamic State

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 12:13am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 11:29am

There are no boundaries to nationality or race as far as the Islamic State is concerned. Its execution of Chinese hostage Fan Jinghui in Syria, announced along with the death of a Norwegian, makes plain that the threat from the extremist Muslim group is not confined to nations carrying out air strikes against its fighters. President Xi Jinping's condemnation of the killing and vow to fight terrorists syncs with the sentiments of other world leaders who have pledged since last Friday's Paris attacks a united effort to defeat the perpetrators. Stepping up military engagement is only part of the solution. The atrocities will continue in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere unless words are matched by political will and action.

Bombers and missiles alone cannot defeat a group that has battle-hardened skills, strong financial backing and support among radicalised and marginalised Muslims the world over. Ground forces are an essential component in Syria and Iraq and apart from Kurds and Iraqis, coalition partners have been unwilling to make such a commitment. Belgium, France, Britain and other nations from which IS has drawn recruits have to rethink policies that have led to unemployment, impoverishment and segregation. But as importantly, there has to be resolve to find a solution to the reasons for IS' rise, the civil war in Syria and a lack of security in neighbouring Iraq.

There are now pressures on the Schengen Agreement, which allows the free flow of trade and people across many European borders, and the acceptance of migrants from Syria. The G20 summit in Turkey made promises on intelligence sharing, cutting off of IS' financial sources and working for a political solution in Syria. But there also needs to be leadership and of all the world powers, the US is the best placed and has the greatest obligation. It, with the backing of Britain and others, was behind the military intervention that brought down the dictatorial, but stable, regimes of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and through support of opposition groups, led to Bashar al-Assad losing control in Syria. A byproduct is the rise of IS.

Americans in particular have a moral responsibility to see through a peaceful transition from the conflicts they started. Arab governments have to play a significant role. They have to work with Russia and welcome China and others that have offered help. IS is a threat to global peace and only through a coordinated strategy and cooperation will it be defeated.