The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) holds a press conference in the Foreign Ministry. Photo: Axel Schmidt / Reuters-Pool / dpa
It should be about the fight against the terrorists in their original areas of operation Syria and Iraq, but also about the increasing activities in Africa and Afghanistan. “The IS in Iraq and Syria has been pushed back, but not defeated, in other regions it is even gaining influence,” said Maas. “In Rome we will make it clear: We will not allow the terrorists an inch, not even in Africa.”
In the summer of 2014, IS took control of large areas in northern Iraq. Shortly afterwards, the jihadists proclaimed a caliphate, which also included the regions they controlled in neighboring Syria, a civil war country. The anti-IS coalition, to which 83 countries now belong, was founded under the leadership of the USA.
With the help of coalition air strikes, local troops succeeded in militarily defeating the terrorist militia. IS lost its last bastion in March 2019 in eastern Syria. Nevertheless, he is still active in both crisis countries. More than 30 people died in an attack in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in January. Only on Tuesday did the jihadists broadcast an audio message in which their spokesman, Abu Hamsa al-Kuraishi, called for attacks.
The anti-IS coalition is still in action in Syria and Iraq. The Bundeswehr is involved with around 250 soldiers in training Iraqi armed forces, operating a surveillance radar and tanker planes.
The extremists can also be found in other regions. These include Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt’s North Sinai and West Africa. It is unclear to what extent the different offshoots are still controlled centrally. Since the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died in 2019 while US special forces were deployed in Syria, the leadership seems to have lost some of its influence. Little is known to the public about the new IS chief Abu Ibrahim al-Haschimi al-Kurashi.
According to a report by the PA news agency, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab plans to provide an additional 14.7 million euros for the fight against IS in Rome. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also present at the conference. Then Blinken and Maas discussed the Syria conflict in a small group with representatives from Great Britain, France, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
In the evening, Maas will travel to southern Italy, where a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting will take place in Matera on Tuesday. The topics of corona, climate protection, trade and Africa should be in the foreground. “Now is the time to make global health structures fit for the coming health crisis. We have to get the world economy back on its feet, ”said Maas. The meeting serves to prepare for the G20 summit in Rome at the end of October. The G20 includes large industrialized and emerging countries. (SDA)