Language : English 简体 繁體

Seeking Common Ground for Anti-Terror Cooperation

Sep 25 , 2014
  • Fu Xiaoqiang

    Director, Institute of Security and Arms Control, CICIR

President Barack Obama chose to unveil his new strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on September 10, the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The timing is a telling fact showing that the United States, under new terror threat from ISIS, has to adjust its anti-terror strategy to defend homeland security and national interests. The adjustments were made against the backdrop of the end of the previous round of anti-terror wars and the contracted anti-terror fronts.

The new strategy underlines the urgency to cope with terror threats posed by ISIS. The United States has realized that such terror forces, if not checked or eliminated, would pose an increasingly grave threat to countries outside the region. The United States itself is no exception because this terror or militant group has recruited a large number of extremists from the United States and Europe. In fact, ISIS grew out of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda by recruiting a quantity of international “jihadists,” and gradually developed into a terror and militant group with strong financial support and military power. Its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi harbors an evil ambition of establishing a global Islamic caliphate. With territorial goals expanding from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Central to Southeast Asia, even including China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, these ambitions threaten total religious war to achieve this dream. In the past two years, there were also cases of extremists from Xinjiang joining ISIS. From this perspective, China and the United States share similar views and the potential for cooperation when countering threats from ISIS.

The Unites States is seeking comprehensive support to fight ISIS, including to launch airstrikes on terrorists, provide greater support for the security forces of relevant countries, strengthen anti-terror capacity building and offer humanitarian assistance. China, however, being an advocate of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, will find it difficult to come to terms with the United States’ approach of solving one problem at the risk of giving rise to more, and will likely have reservations to the U.S. options that might constitute interference into other countries’ internal affairs and disrespect of other countries’ sovereign integrity. But it is also in China’s security interest to prevent ISIS from continuing to brutally kill the innocent and expand land under its control, and to stop it from growing into a new global terror leader that spreads extremism and “jihadists” in the world. As far as regional and global security is concerned, the plan announced by the United States might lead to the occurrence of new problems, but it is believed that the approach is better and more desirable than its standing-idle stance after the war in Afghanistan, which led to the rampant expansion of terrorist forces in the region.

Furthermore, in its new strategy against ISIS, the United States is beginning to cherish international cooperation, seeks consensus in the United Nations Security Council, and rallies support from the international community. This deserves praise. It shows that the United States is paying more attention to the role of international mechanisms, is more willing to coordinate with big powers like China and Russia, and is more ready to underscore the resources and enthusiasm of the countries in the regions in the war against terrorism and terrorists.

For China, terror threats mainly come from the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” forces inside and outside the country. China is also on high alert against new international terror groups as represented by ISIS, as well as the influence of the international terror groups on the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” forces. China and the United States share common ground in anti-terror cooperation. The two can find common interests in the ongoing U.S. efforts to form a coalition against the ISIS and China’s fight against the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” forces. It is believed that future anti-terror cooperation between China and the U.S. can be reached in the following four areas.

First, they need to reach strategic consensus on preventing the reoccurrence of global terror organizations. The rise of terror groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS pose an enormous risk to countries like the United States, European nations, China and Russia. In the face of a new round of global terror threats, no country could be a safe haven or is able to stay away from the threats. China and the United States can play a leading role among the big-power countries in reaching such consensus. During this process, if regional terror groups with close ties to al-Qaeda and ISIS are not targeted, the global efforts to rein in the occurrence and growth of terror organizations can hardly achieve the desired results. Therefore, China and the United States could carry out pragmatic cooperation in the fight against the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” forces, at least on some fronts, even if the United States cannot agree completely with China’s crackdown on such forces.

Second, the role of the United Nations Security Council and the Global Counter-terrorism Forum should be fully tapped. China and the United States can cooperate in establishing a cooperative mechanism for the prevention of cross-border flows of terrorists, and in clamping down the recruiting activities by the ISIS. They can also make efforts in border control and the prevention of cross-border flows of terrorists, strengthen cooperation in uprooting the online spreading of violent and terror audio and video programs, and take precautionary measures against any possible emergence of violence and terror. With influence on neighboring countries, China can also help promote the establishment of trilateral or multilateral security cooperation mechanisms among China, the United States and regional neighbors to effectively contain the spread of ISIS forces.

Third, they can cooperate by halting the financing network of major terror groups. Financing is a key issue influencing the recruitment and expansion of terrorist organizations. For ISIS, a terror organization with the richest financing in history, the most effective way to contain and eliminate its spread is to cut off its financing channels like their non-ceasing flows from oil revenues and donations. China and the United States could cooperate closely with the Middle East countries to bust and destroy the black oil trading market, which is the main source of financing for ISIS. Only when its financing channels are severed could the anti-terror campaign succeed.

Finally, China and the United States can work together to contain the spillover effect and rampancy of extremist ideology. One of the most eye-catching threats ISIS poses is the export of its violent and terrorist ideology, which indirectly incites terror groups across the world to conduct further terrorist attacks. Therefore, China and the United States share a broad scope for anti-violence and counter-terrorism cooperation, and can jointly crack down online terrorist propaganda and recruitment by ISIS and other groups. The United States should consider listing terrorist and violent groups, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and their extremist activities and ideology, on their counterterrorism agenda because these groups are important carriers and channels for the escalation of ISIS activities.

You might also like
Back to Top