The goal of ISIS may be the creation of a global caliphate but so far they’re mostly just promoting global unity — against them. Al Jazeera reports that the United Nations Security Council, which has been especially fiercely divided in recent years on how to handle international security and civil conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe, had a rare moment of unanimity today on a resolution concerning ISIS, the powerful Syrian-Iraqi rebel faction.
The United Nations Security Council has taken a tough line against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, blacklisting six people including the group’s spokesman and threatening sanctions against its financiers and weapons suppliers.
The 15-member council unanimously adopted on Friday a resolution that aims to weaken the Islamic State – an al-Qaeda splinter group that has seized swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate – and al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing Nusra Front.
Between the Syria bickering last year and the Ukraine crisis this year, this is a big step back toward cooperation on anything.
At the moment, the 15-member UN Security Council consists of the five Permanent Members with veto power (US, UK, France, Russia, China) and the following non-permanent members: Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea, Rwanda, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania, and Nigeria.
It’s actually not hard to figure out why nearly all of these governments would have no reservations about condemning ISIS and working together against it.
Beyond the U.S. interests in northern Iraq, the UK and Australia have been participating in supply drops against ISIS in Iraq, while France has begun sending weapons to the Kurdish forces to fight ISIS. Lithuania and Luxembourg are NATO members probably taking their cues on this from the US and UK, and similarly South Korea is a major U.S. military ally. Russia is supporting both the Syrian and Iraqi governments against ISIS. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s government is fighting its own Islamist insurgency, in a fight that nearby Chad (a rising military power backed by China) has recently joined in coalition with other regional powers. China’s government is fighting what they believe to be an Islamist insurgency in its formative stages (though that’s a bit of a dubious characterization), and it’s plausible that veterans of this conflict may head to China later. Jordan is dealing with the spillover refugee problem from neighboring Syria and Iraq, too. Essentially, everyone in that 15 member list but Chile and Rwanda either has some type of fairly direct stake or military interest in the ISIS situation or has a similar situation at home making them sympathetic.
Of course, you might be wondering whether this cooperation could extend further — to authorizing military actions, for example — since sanctions aren’t that exciting. The idea of a UN-backed military intervention in Iraq is actually a bit trickier and brings up a lot more mutual suspicions among the competing powers on the Security Council, but it’s still not out of the realm of possibility.
Either way, this is an encouraging sign that it’s still possible to get the United States (and its allies) and Russia on the same page about something, at a time when things have gotten so bad that their space programs are barely getting along.
And in another sign of the extremely transformative and unifying power of ISIS, controversial Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally agreed to resign in favor of another member of his party, in compliance with both American and Iranian demands, following several days of aggressive displays of military power in Baghdad that suggested he might be planning to remain in power via a military coup. Maliki was (quite justifiably) very unpopular with a lot of Iraqis, which was making it hard to mount an effective and unified front against ISIS and which was fueling some of the ISIS recruitment.
Keep up the good work of unifying all your enemies, ISIS. At this rate you might achieve world peace everywhere except Iraq and Syria.