Qatar has taken very strong steps in recent months to assist the international community and the US in their campaign against IS, Al Qaeda and other transnational terrorist groups, a senior official from the US Department of State has said.
“We have a number of important initiatives underway with Qatar relating to things like information sharing and counter-terrorism finance,” ambassador Nathan Sales, counter-terrorism co-ordinator, told Gulf Times at a telephonic press briefing yesterday.
He was giving details of a recently-held international conference on mobilising law enforcement efforts to defeat the IS and new terrorist designations.
“We look forward to continuing to work with our friends in Doha to improve their capabilities and we look forward to working with other countries in the region as we raise the bar globally on counter-terrorism capabilities,” Sales stressed.
In January this year, the US praised Qatar for its counter-terrorism efforts and highlighted the strong relations between the two countries, while also stressing the need to work towards a solution to end the Gulf crisis.
Such observations were made during the opening session of the inaugural US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in Washington, DC, which was attended by HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis.
The strategic dialogue sessions featured discussions on key areas of co-operation, including trade and investment, security, counter-terrorism, energy and aviation.
At the telephonic press briefing, the State Department was sharing the US perspective on the next stage on the campaign against IS and other terrorist groups.
“We achieved great success in Syria and Iraq in destroying the so-called caliphate and liberating millions of people from ISIS clutches,” he noted.
“Now it is important for us to pivot and we direct our efforts, to supplement our efforts with civilian sector tools and law enforcement tools in co-ordination with partners around the world,” Sales added.
“ISIS is an adaptive threat and we need to adapt along with it to keep our people safe.”
Apart from other countries globally, he pointed out that the US is also concerned about the growing terrorist threats in Africa, where there are overlapping groups – not just Al Qaeda but IS-affiliated networks and others.
Sales lauded their African partners saying they were “very valuable counter-terrorism partners,” and a lot of them have strong political will to take the necessary steps to confront IS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups of global reach.
He said the US’ goal is to continually improve its local partners’ capabilities and help them secure their borders, investigate terrorist-related crimes, prevent terrorist attacks and respond to attacks in real time.
“Ultimately the interest of the US is ensuring that our partners have those skills themselves and need not turn to outsiders to provide security for them,” he said.
“We see an increase in ISIS activity in Africa and in all corners of the world and that is why it is incumbent upon us with our international partners to mobilise international coalition and demonstrate to that coalition that the fight is not over,” Sales said. “We need to redouble our efforts to confront this threat as it extends out across the globe”.
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