Inclusivity essential to long-term political strategy to counter ISIS

November 24, 2014

In the effort to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria, think tanks, experts and governments have called for a political strategy with inclusivity as a core facet. PAX also stated in its first Iraq & Syria Alert that ‘a response to ISIS must be inclusive in character, with a long-term objective of legitimate and responsive governments in Iraq and Syria.’ But what should this inclusivity entail exactly?

The second Iraq & Syria Alert alert delves further into what inclusivity entails and sets progress markers for the international community to monitor inclusive policy in different sectors as part of the larger political strategy to counter ISIS.

Establishing an inclusive unity government is not enough; reforms have to be taken in all public sectors, including the security sector, education, local governance and the legal framework. Despite the complex political and security situation, meaningful steps can and should already be taken under the present circumstances by the countries participating in the coalition against ISIS.

In Iraq, the military and political support to the newly formed Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) leads to increased leverage of the international community, in particular the countries involved in the coalition against ISIS, on these governments. PAX believes leverage should be used to develop benchmarks for political reform. Further steps in support and cooperation with the GoI and KRG should be made dependent on progress on these benchmarks. Topics the benchmarks should cover include:

  • Legal reform, including decentralization, protection of minorities and women;
  • Security Sector Reform, including integration of ethnic and religious  minorities in the Iraqi Army and the Peshmerga, and including the integration of Sunni and Shia militias as far as these have not been involved in war crimes; and
  • Social reforms, including educational systems and curricula.

In Syria, the chances for an immediate transition to an inclusive governance system at the national level are more limited. PAX sees the following priority areas to support development of inclusive governance:   

  • The establishment of a Temporary Government is an opportunity to initiate a process of political transformation that will lead to a more inclusive and democratic governance system. PAX believes support to this Temporary Government should be made conditional on inclusivity benchmarks. Benchmarks similar to those proposed for Iraq should be agreed upon with the Temporary Government, as should benchmarks for its internal structure and capacity.
  • Support for the development of local governance is crucial. Strengthening de facto local administrations that are inclusive and participatory will make local communities more resilient against radical groups. The countries supporting the Temporary Government and local councils should stimulate productive interaction between the Temporary Government and local councils.

Read our second Syria & Iraq Alert

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