Letter to General John Allen
November 5, 2014
General John Allen
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL
U.S. Department of State
201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear General Allen:
I write in advance of the international conference to be hosted by the Government of Bahrain on November 9, 2014, designed to build broad multilateral support for the global coalition to counter the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to urge you to take steps to ensure that the U.S. alliance with Bahrain is not interpreted as uncritical support for a repressive and anti-democratic regime. Such a perception will undermine your efforts to build an effective international coalition to counter ISIL.
In your public remarks, you have outlined a five-part strategy for countering ISIL: military operations; stemming the flow of foreign fighters; disrupting financial support for ISIL; humanitarian efforts to aid the victims of the conflict; and delegitimizing ISIL messaging and ideology. We welcome the broad approach that you have outlined, and we recognize that support from as wide a range of allies as possible, especially from the Arab region, will be essential to the success of global efforts to counter ISIL. Our concerns center on the fifth element of the strategic framework you have outlined.
In particular, we are concerned that in forging close operational alliances with Arab states – states that have resisted popular demands for a more inclusive, representative government and restricted the basic rights and freedoms of their peoples – the United States runs the risk of encouraging the spread of the violent extremism that it seeks to counter.
As you are aware, much of the financial support for violent extremist groups in Syria that have now coalesced in the ISIL came from sources in the Arab Gulf region encouraged by regional governments which saw in the Syrian conflict an opportunity to push back against Iranian influence by supporting an armed revolt against Iran’s ally, the regime of Bashar al-Assad. While these governments now see it as in their interest to fight against the radicalism of ISIL, their willingness to exploit sectarian divisions to advance political objectives remains a problem for the United States as it works to build an effective coalition to counter violent extremism.