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Belgium can learn from Singapore in fight against IS: DPM Reynders


27 Nov Belgium can learn from Singapore in fight against IS: DPM Reynders

Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium Didier Reynders said that both countries share the assessment that it will take more than military action to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS).



SINGAPORE: Belgium says it is interested to learn Singapore’s measures to fight radicalisation, and that both countries share the assessment that it will take more than military action to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS).

Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium Didier Reynders said this at a public lecture organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs on Wednesday (Nov 26).

Mr Reynders, who is also Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said a long-term solution requires international collaboration as well as a political solution within Iraq and Syria. He said countries need to share information and stop IS from being financed. Countries around Iraq and Syria – such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – will also need to be involved in the fight against IS.

Mr Reynders said at least 10,000 people from various countries have joined IS. To address this, nations must identify the root cause for their allegiance and adjust policies accordingly. He said about 170 Belgians have joined the fight. Another 40 are estimated to have been killed, with 100 Belgians returning.

With these returnees posing a real threat, Belgium has strengthened the coordination between its different agencies. It has also developed counter-narratives and information documents to prevent radicalisation. Belgium has also provided six F16 fighter jets to the campaign against IS.

Mr Reynders said: “60 countries and organisations decided to join the coalition, not just with military force but with humanitarian aid, training, support to the Iraqi army and various other means. They all see this terrorist organisation for what it is – a threat not only for Iraq and Syria but a threat for all.”

Dr Yeo Lay Hwee, director of the European Union Centre in Singapore, shared how the city-state could contribute in the fight against IS: “I think Singapore has lots of experience dealing with diversity in our own society and in our own different communities.

“So in that sense, Singapore can work with other Western countries to contribute how we can get different communities to work together and offer a counter-narrative. So it’s not just about military operations but we need to counter the extreme ideology that is being spread through the internet.”

Both Belgium and Singapore have decided to join a multinational coalition to combat IS.

This article was originally published on Channel NewsAsia on 26 Nov 2014.