President Barack Obama frankly confessed Monday, June 8: “We don’t yet have a complete strategy [against ISIS] because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis.” In his concluding remarks at the end of the G7 summit in Germany, Obama cited recruitment as the key stumbling block facing the central government in Baghdad. He added that he would share a final training plan for the Iraqi military with the American people as soon as is military brass comes up with one.
Earlier that day, the president claimed that the setbacks in the war against ISIS gave them “a short term tactical gain” that “could be reversed by ramped-up US assistance.”
In another statement that day, he said he was “confident that although it is going to take time, we are going to be successful. ISIL is going to be driven out of Iraq and ultimately… defeated.”
DEBKA Weekly’s Washington sources report that White House and State Department spent the day scrambling to bring cohesion and consistency to the president’s mixed comments on ISIS, especially when every expert in sight continued to challenge his evaluations.
Expert consensus: It is too late to beat ISIS down
Former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, for instance, warned that Washington is losing the battle against the Islamic State. Speaking in a press interview, he said that “bad as things are today, they’re better than they’re going to be in a month.”
His predecessor, Zalmay Khalilzad, saw the trends in the region as “spiraling downward.” …the underlying factors that could shape circumstances are heading in a negative direction.”
Former generals and spy chiefs all endorsed this view, many even more forcibly.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, voiced concern on June 10 that the US is not keeping up with the rising threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, he said there is "absolutely no end in sight" and "no clear US policy" for dealing with it.
The US-led war on ISIS is weighed down not just by the president’s refusal to acknowledge the difficulties, but by actions which make things worse. The terrorist group is consequently gaining eminence in the Muslim world as a radical Islamic State proudly and firmly in control of core terrain at the heart of the Middle East.
The “downward spiral” has descended so fast in the year since ISIS first seized territory in Iraq virtually unopposed, that by now it is too late to reverse by President Obama or by his successor – even they do decide to throw all of America’s military might into the struggle.
Nothing less than the re-conquest of all of Iraq as well as Syria would beat down the Sunni Islamic State. This world-class mission the United States and its armed forces are hardly likely to embrace – especially when no European or Asian ally has the will, the soldiers or the financial resources to contribute to this struggle
The US forfeits Sunni majority by siding with Shiites
Obama’s close affinity with Tehran and the Shiite Muslim sect at large has progressively weakened the Sunni campaign against the Islamic State. His consent to Shiite Iran’s elevation to regional power status, potentially armed with a nuclear bomb, has placed the United States on the side of the Shiites against the Sunnis.
America ends up on the losing side of the Muslim schism since Sunnis represent 87-97 percent of all Muslims, and Shiites no more than 10-12 percent.
Gambling on the wrong side has also cost the US access to fabulous funds and a large pool of fighting men in the Sunni camp.
The pro-Tehran camp is by comparison a lot poorer in financial and fighting resources
In the space of one year, ISIS has carved out territorial bastions in four Middle East countries: Iraq, Syria, Egyptian Sinai and Libya – and is still in full momentum towards domination of the Sunni world, whereas
Iran is running low on troops and cash for standing up to the terrorist surge.
Even if the US and Europe lift every last sanction imposed on Iran, the ayatollahs will still be short of assets for fighting a major war. This leaves Washington stuck on the losing side.
Did Obama let ISIS create a barrier against unbridled Iranian imperialism?
Some experts in the West and the Middle East are skeptical about Obama’s claim that he has not yet arrived at a complete strategy against ISIS. They are finding evidence to the contrary.
One: Even though the US president avows his support for Iran and the Shiites, some of America’s actions are seen as counter-productive to Iran’s pretensions as a regional power and its Middle East leverage. These experts (some of them top-notch) maintain that the Obama administration did not lift a finger to stop ISIS moving in on parts of northern, eastern and central Syria, and allowed the Islamists to gain a continuous territorial link from the central Syrian town of Palmyra to the western town of Ramadi in Iraq – 484 kilometers apart. This set up an impassable barrier in the way of Iran’s imperial aspirations.
They argue that the Americans must have known what ISIS was up to from the spy satellites and reconnaissance planes in place over the region. Yet US bombers never struck the columns of thousands of trucks packed with black-clad ISIS fighters as they raced toward their targets.
Some experts draw on a “highly redacted” USA Defense Intelligence Agency assessment from 2012 just released to support this theory:
”If the situation unravels [in Syria], there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria at Hasaka and Deir ez-Sour, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime and Hizballah.”
The assessment goes on to assert prophetically, as it turned out, that the creation of such a “Salafist principality would have dire consequences” for Iraq and possibly lead to the creation of an Islamic State and “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.”
While supporting Tehran, Obama maintains outreach to all Muslims
Since the Iraq war, Vice President Joe Biden has gone on record with a proposal to break up large Arab states, especially Iraq, into ethnic or sectarian enclaves. But Western strategists began thinking in terms of interposing a Sunni obstacle to break up the land link connecting Iran to Syria and Hizballah after the 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah, which ended without a clear decision. The necessity of cutting Hizballah off from its supply sources in Iran was then seen as essential to regional stability.
Two: President Obama while fostering his rapprochement with the Shiite power has never turned away from the fundamental drive for an American outreach to the Muslim world, first articulated in his speech at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. He then advocated US cooperation with moderate Muslim groups, citing the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood as an example.
Because of his tenacious adherence to this principle, Obama is ready to go hammer and tongs against the Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi. He may rule the largest Sunni Arab country, but the US president hasn’t forgiven him for ousting the Brotherhood from power and persecuting its leaders.
This week, a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders flew in from exile in Turkey to a welcome in Washington.
Certain Middle East watchers view Obama’s attitude towards Sisi as part of a devious divide and rule policy for driving a wedge between Egypt and the Saudi-Turkish-Qatari bloc of Sunni nations.
Whether any of these analyses of Obama’s intentions is wholly or partially true, they have this in common: they all help ISIS move on.