In a wide-ranging interview regarding the fight against Daesh and the future of the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of initiatives such as Alhurra’s Raise Your Voice campaign to fight radicalism. He said that it is “a very important initiative.” The interview was conducted by Raise Your Voice Digital Managing Editor Omar Fekeiki.
He went on to say that, “It is imperative that citizens speak out. Everybody has a responsibility to fight back against this radicalism. And I think that what’s important is that people don’t feel they can’t make a difference…And I think that until people do speak up and fully make their voices heard, it’s very difficult to mobilize the full energy that we need to against violent extremism.”
Secretary Kerry remarked that the international coalition involved in the effort against Daesh is “doing a great deal,” stating that “countries in the Middle East particularly are deeply engaged in this effort.” He discussed the social media initiatives as well as the work being done to cut finances to Daesh. He went on to say that although Daesh has lost 44 percent of the territory that it held in Iraq and about 16 or 17 percent in Syria, that this needs to be “a slow and steady progression” so the territory does not fall back into Daesh’s control.
Secretary Kerry specifically discussed the role of Saudi Arabia, stating that King Salman and the Saudi government have a “special authority with respect to Islam.” He discussed how important it is that Saudi Arabia is putting together counter-narratives to the propaganda Daesh is putting out, because King Salman and the court are a “very important seat of Islam speaking about what the true Islam is about.” However, Secretary Kerry did note that Saudi Arabia could do “a little more to help us cut off some of the sources of private finance of money that moves,” stressing that it was not the Saudi government, but private financers.
When asked about the calls for political change in Iraq, Secretary Kerry stated that the Iraqi government needs to be inclusive, remarking that “every Iraqi has to be represented within the governing process.” He acknowledged that would lead to “moments of tension,” but added once the government works through that it would then “move people together, hopefully in the same direction.” He added that Vice President Biden is in Iraq to encourage Prime Minister Abadi “to be inclusive, bring people to the table, work through the differences, and make sure that everybody is represented in a fair and sensible way.”