President Barack Obama told fellow world leaders at the United Nations today that the United States would be unrelenting in its mission to dismantle the “network of death” that has swept through parts of Syria and Iraq but insisted that it must be a global effort taken up by all countries including those in the region.
Nations in the Middle East would find a “respectful and constructive” partner in the US in trying to tackle the “cancer” of violent of extremism, but it was for them to address the root causes that allow movements like ISIS to sprout and grow. “Ultimately the task of rejecting sectarianism and extremism is a generational task - a task for the people of the Middle East themselves. No external power can bring about a transformation of hearts and minds.”
In sweeping address that was sometimes philosophical and often grave in tone, Mr Obama was uncompromising in his condemnation of ISIS. He was in New York just two days after the US led a coalition with five Arab states bombarding Isis positions inside Syria for the first time. The Prime Minister David Cameron was to address the Assembly later on Wednesday.
“No God condones this terror,” he declared. “No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force,” he said. “So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”
The President, who was later to chair a special session of the UN Security Council on tackling Isis, also known as Isil, and blocking the flow of foreign fighters to join it, also appealed to Muslims everywhere to denounce the ideologies and barbarism of this and other extremist sectarian groups. “The ideology of Isil or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day,” he said.
Mr Obama then singled out for praise the efforts of some in the Muslim community in the United Kingdom “Look at the young British Muslims,” he said, “who responded to terrorist propaganda by starting the “notinmyname” campaign, declaring – ‘Isis is hiding behind a false Islam’.”
Leaders in New York find themselves confronted by an unprecedented array of problems in the world ranging from the rise of Isis to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the fighting in eastern Ukraine, the recent violence in Gaza as well as in countries such as Mali, Nigeria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, noted what he called an unprecedented “profusion of problems” around the world’s leaders to sow “the seeds of hope” that will push back the turmoil. “Leadership is precisely about finding the seeds of hope and nurturing them into something bigger,” the UN chief asserted. “That is our duty. That is my call to you today.”
In his address, Mr Obama also warned that the US would not give up in its efforts to establish a two-state solution the continuing strife between Palestinians and Israel and warned the Israeli people against giving up on the prospect of peace. “The violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace,” Mr Obama told his audience. He added: "And that’s something worthy of reflection within Israel.”
He also had harsh words for countries – though he named none – who have helped fund the extremist groups in the Middle East. “That means cutting off the funding that fuels this hate. It’s time to end the hypocrisy of those who accumulate wealth through the global economy, and then siphon funds to those who teach children to tear it down,” he said.