Following the military defeat of ISIS, the next phase in the battle against the group is to tackle its ideology. A conference held in Baghdad featuring people from all across the globe is attempting to find solutions to this issue.
The Iraqi Government hosted its fourth annual international conference in Baghdad this week, which aims to confront ISIS’ media and propaganda.
Over 97 delegations from across the world attended the conference to join the conversation on finding methods to defeating ISIS’ evil ideology, as part of a new phase in the post-ISIS era, which seeks to counter the group ideologically after its military defeat in December 2017.
This ideology, which had attracted thousands of vulnerable people from across the world to join the militant group, continues to infiltrate social media outlets to recruit new fighters to fight its battles.
“We are undergoing a new phase, not a military one, but one comprising of intellectual and media challenges through social media and cybersecurity,” said Sa’eed al-Jayashi, an Iraqi military and security expert. “This challenge has become global, and the goal of international efforts and researchers who will be presenting their research and discussions in the media sessions is to reach this common framework.”
During the two-day conference, the Iraqi Military Intelligence revealed that hundreds of documents have been retrieved from ISIS HQs and bases. These documents have further revealed the militant group’s ideology, enabling security experts and analysts to find methods to counter it.
“It is an ideological forum held to unite views and efforts against ISIS and extremism,” said Sa’ad Ma’an, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
The conference was also attended by representatives of the US-led International Coalition Against ISIS, who reiterated their continued support for the Iraqi Government in its war against ISIS, both ideologically and militarily.
“What we saw today was the presence of more than 97 countries and international organisations that [came together to] discuss the post-ISIS phase in addition to the mechanisms and possibilities to fight the group and support the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Security Forces to the end,” said Joe Hood, the head of the US Charge D’affairs in Baghdad.
Since the rise of the militant group to prominence in 2014, many organisations and governments have attempted to counter the propaganda that the militant group releases to brainwash youth. While many of these attempts have been unsuccessful, countries like Morocco have been able to develop a programme that helps counter-extremism in their country.
With the group nearly defeated in Syria, the fight against ISIS is shifting from being mainly focussed on military advances, to one that encompasses defeating the enemy from an ideological viewpoint.