Anti-Extremism Confab Short on Concrete Steps

Anti-Extremism Confab Short on Concrete StepsAnti-Extremism Confab Short on Concrete Steps

The United States sought to unite nations around a common vision for combating violent militant groups in three days of conference which ended Thursday long on words but short on concrete steps.

The White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism gave Obama the opportunity to bring together representatives of more than 60 countries to discuss their individual and combined efforts to fight the Islamic State and other extremist groups, but there were few concrete takeaways from the three days of meetings and speeches, according to experts, AFP said in a report.

“I think it was a bit of a sleeper summit, and on balance it doesn’t do much good,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a national security expert at the Brookings Institution.

While Obama studiously avoided words like “Islamic” and “Muslim,” he made no bones about the need to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, mentioning the terrorist group nine times.

“No big new ideas, no big visibility — the only clips I’ve heard have been of President Barack Obama, leader of the United States and a Christian, speaking about the need for moderation in Islam,” he continued. “I don’t think that message is all that new or all that resonant.”

  Ugly Lie

Obama on Thursday rejected as “an ugly lie” suggestions that the West was at war with Islam and embroiled in a clash of civilizations.

In his wide-ranging anti-terrorism speech, Obama rejected the idea that mostly Christian and western nations are waging a war on Muslims. “The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie, and all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it.”

The US president said there was a complicated history between the Middle East and the West and no one should be immune from criticism over specific policies.

National leaders must also dispute claims that there is a clash of civilizations in the world, Obama said during his second-day speech.

“Nations need to break the cycles of conflict, especially sectarian conflicts that have become magnets for violent extremism. We must address the grievances that terrorists exploit, including economic grievances,” he said in his Thursday speech.

Obama stressed that when peaceful democratic change is impossible, it feeds into the terrorists’ propaganda that “violence is the only answer available.”

  Leave People Out of War

Speaking Thursday morning, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the conference to keep people out of war.

“There’s been a silly debate in the media in the last days about what you have to do. You have to take the people off the battlefield, who are there today, he said, adding that “it is stupid if you don’t prevent more people from going to the battlefield.”

Earlier, Kerry wrote in an article that violent extremism represents the biggest challenge in the 21st century and success in fighting it requires “showing the world the power of peaceful communities.”

Kerry wrote. “Success requires showing the world the power of peaceful communities instead of extremist violence. Success requires offering a vision that is positive and proactive: a world with more concrete alternatives to the nihilistic worldview of violent extremists.”

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called on governments to reach out, especially to young people who are often the target of recruitment efforts by terrorists.

Following the gruesome burning of a Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State and Jordan’s stepped-up efforts to target the extremist group’s position across Iraq and Syria, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh was another speaker at the summit.

Judeh revealed that Arab nations were planning to “formulate a unified common Arab, Muslim stance” to what he called an “unprecedented threat.”

“The war against extremism and radical ideology is our war,” said Judeh, again condemning the murder of the Jordanian pilot burned alive by IS.