S'pore condemns ISIS in 'strongest possible terms'

Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam has reaffirmed Singapore's tough stand on the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at the United Nations, on a day when the Syrian and Indian leaders also voiced support for the international effort to combat the extremists.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York, Mr Shanmugam said Singapore condemns the actions of the terrorist group in the "strongest possible terms".

"It is brutal, cruel and a travesty of all that religion stands for. Their unspeakable cruelty, including abductions and brutal murders of civilians, constitutes crimes against humanity," he said on Monday.

Mr Shanmugam - whose speech also touched on the move to draft a new global development agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals - added that ISIS needs to be fought beyond the battlefields.

"We need to combat them at all levels. Critically: Fair economic development, good governance, political and social stability will increase a country's resilience against them."

Over the course of the past week, Singapore has stressed its ISIS position on several platforms. ASEAN released a joint statement condemning terrorism at the weekend and Singapore co-sponsored the UN Security Council resolution on foreign fighters that was passed unanimously.

Mr Shanmugam also said that Singapore welcomes the strong leadership of the United States on the issue as well as the Jeddah declaration by Arab countries pledging to stand united against ISIS.

The Singapore Foreign Minister's comments at the UN came hours after a closely watched speech by Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al-Moualem.

While Mr Al-Moualem objected to economic sanctions that have been placed on Syria by the US and European nations, he did not explicitly condemn the air strikes - an indication that the Assad government is willing to tolerate the bombardment.

If anything, he urged countries to take firmer action against ISIS, especially in implementing measures called for in the UN resolution passed last week cracking down on the flow of foreign fighters to the region.

"Intentions here no longer have a place. Fighting terrorism is achievable through actual implementation of resolutions, and it is certainly possible through military strikes. But most importantly, to do so through stopping states that arm, support, train, fund... those terrorist groups," he said.

The US and five Arab partners began air strikes within Syria's borders last week. Though the Syrian government was notified shortly before the strikes began, the US said it did not ask for permission.

ISIS was also on the mind of visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he spoke at an event organised by the think- tank Council on Foreign Relations in New York. The world needed to unite to fight a draconian wave of terrorism, he said in Hindi. "Terrorism is an enemy of humanity and anybody who believes in humanity, they all need to come together," he said.

Mr Modi also urged the US to be careful in pulling troops out of Afghanistan, lest it repeats the mistakes of Iraq.

"Because after such a rapid withdrawal in Iraq, and what happened there, the withdrawal process in Afghanistan should be very slow. Let it stand on its own, and only then can you stop the Taleban lifting its head there," he said.

This article was first published on October 01, 2014.
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