Ambassador’s Remarks Opening “Countering Violent Extremism through Social Media” Training

June 2, 2015

Opening Remarks of Amb. Douglas Silliman At the Kuwait CVE Social Media Training

Your Excellency Under Secretary Tareq al-Mizrem, distinguished representatives from the Ministries of Information, Youth, Interior, Education, and Awqaf:

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, I’d like to thank you for convening this important training on “combating violent extremism

through social media.”

I’d like to start by thanking the Government of Kuwait for its efforts to counter violent extremism and to relieve the suffering of the victims of conflict in the region. These efforts, under the leadership of His Highness the Amir, a designated UN Humanitarian Leader, include providing humanitarian relief to Syrian refugees – including hosting three international pledging conferences– and logistical support to the coalition to defeat Daesh.

Additionally, last October, Kuwait hosted the first anti-Daesh messaging conference, which brought together representatives from our coalition partners to coordinate efforts in what Secretary of State John Kerry has termed “the battleground of ideas.”

Much remains to be done, and we look forward to working with our Kuwaiti partners to confront extremist groups across a broad spectrum of areas.

The presence here today of senior leaders in the five ministries – together with my U.S. government colleagues from the Embassy and across the region – shows the unity of purpose of our two governments in finding new ways to confront the hateful ideologies of extremist groups through social media.

As President Obama has said, we need to find “new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion” in a way that “transforms the environment that gives birth to these movements.”

As we know, transforming the environment is not merely about selecting the right tools, but rather about crafting the right message – one that resonates with youth.

That’s why I’m pleased to see on the full agenda of this training several sessions on “developing the message” – to counter the sickening ideology of destruction, violence, and hopelessness embraced by extremist groups.

I also want to stress that we look forward to hearing the expertise and successes of our Kuwaiti colleagues.

While the U.S. government has brought together experts from around the region for this training, we too have much to learn from our Kuwaiti partners in meeting this common challenge.

So let’s get started, knowing well the importance of our work, and more significantly, the importance of applying what we learn in a way that “transforms the environment” in which we work, individually and collectively.

Thank you very much.