Colum Lynch and Elias Groll point out an inherent danger in Obama’s effort to cut off ISIS’s supply of foreign fighters, warning that illiberal regimes will likely use it as an excuse to further stifle dissent:
[At last week's UN Security Council session], the Obama administration pushed through a measure that requires member states to prevent their citizens from traveling abroad to participate in or finance acts of terrorism. It was unanimously approved by the assembled world powers, but the vote wasn’t the clear-cut win for American diplomacy that it may appear to be.
Instead, the measure, in a textbook example of the dangers of unintended consequences, could end up giving China and similarly repressive states such as Russia and Middle Eastern monarchies powerful new tools for cracking down on separatist groups branded as terrorists. The resolution, which is legally binding, is so sweeping and vague that it effectively leaves it to each country to decide who to target, and how, because there is no internationally agreed upon definition of terrorism. For instance, the resolution requires that law enforcement agents prevent people from traveling if they have “credible information that provides reasonable grounds” for suspecting they might commit terrorist attacks during their travels. The standard of proof required to ban travel is likely to vary sharply in democratic and autocratic countries, opening the door to potential abuse of, for example, political opposition groups and ethnic minorities.
Akil Awan asks how countries whose citizens travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS should best deal with them when they return home. Every option, he finds, has limitations and downsides: