NATO urged to deny Daesh Libya base, boost information sharing
Istanbul, 20 November 2016 – NATO nations and partners must deny Daesh a base in Libya, beef up information sharing to track foreign fighters and boost funding to the Middle East and North Africa to deprive the group of new recruits, lawmakers from NATO nations warned on Sunday.
“The imminence of the terrorist threat against NATO is an unquestionable reality,” Italian lawmaker Andrea Manciulli said in a report on Daesh’s expansion into Libya and the Mediterranean presented at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Annual Session in Istanbul, Turkey.
As they are squeezed in northern Syria and Iraq, Daesh fighters are likely to move to other unstable areas like Libya, or return home, and possibly wreak havoc with skills honed on battlefields in the Middle East. Manciulli warns that Libya must be given overriding priority by the international community.
The report, presented to the Assembly’s Political Committee, notes that the extremist group has taken geographic, ideological and political roots that will be tough to eradicate.
In a resolution, prepared by Lithuania’s Rasa Jukneviciene, the lawmakers call on Allies and partners to deepen cooperation with countries in the Mediterranean and the Gulf while they continue their offensive against Daesh.
They also urge countries to boost economic and financial assistance to the Middle East and North Africa region to help improve people’s lives and thereby deprive extremist groups of recruits.
Bichara Khader, Professor Emeritus, Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, warned that young people who are blocked by economic strife even though they are well educated could be drawn to extremism. “These young Arabs should be a gift. In times of economic trouble they can become a burden,” he said.
In the NATO PA Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, lawmakers urged Allies to ensure that counter-terrorism agencies are properly funded and staffed, and that they make best use of information-sharing technologies to locate and track potential terrorists.
“The international mechanisms of cooperation that exist already are underused while the terror threat itself is transforming,” French rapporteur Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam warned. We have to “attack the deep root causes of terrorism if we hope to be able to bring the threat back to a manageable level.”
Deputies also encourage nations to take confidence building measures to encourage information sharing, such as joint counter-terror training and the improvement of oversight mechanisms to ensure data is not misused. Counter-radicalisation methods should be improved, notably in prisons, they say.
The need for action could not be starker. In a report on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism debated by the Science and Technology Committee, Dutch MP Maria Martens warned that Daesh is continuing to use chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, even as it loses ground in the region.
“Will Daesh use its chemical weapons stockpile for a last stand in Mosul,” she wondered, as the Iraqi army battles to take control of the northern city that has been a bastion of the extremists over the last two years. “It’s a fair assumption,” she said. “We can only hope that it doesn’t turn into a chemical battleground.”