My Turn: Obama not to blame for rise of Islamic State
Conjecture by Sen. John McCain and Hillary Clinton et al that President Obama is to blame for the Islamic State scourge because of his support (arms and airstrikes) of the Syrian resistance was lacking is wrong.
Blame falls squarely on former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (a Shiite who alienated Sunni tribes) and who has just been replaced by a moderate, though still Shiite, prime minister to form a fair “inclusive” government – as urged by Obama.
The key steps to defanging the Islamic State militant group are:
∎ Stop Islamic State recruitment of alienated Sunni fighters through their tribal chiefs, who will confirm that this new Iraqi regime will be fairer to Sunnis.
∎ Motivate a reinvigorated Iraqi army made up of Shiite and Sunni fighters to risk their lives against the repressive Islamic State caliphate. Also, Saudis should be pressured to stop funding the Islamic State.
∎ The United States should resupply Iraq’s army and inject more advisers/trainers to guide the re-invigorated Iraqi army to evict the Islamic State from Iraq.
∎ U.S. air power should augment the Iraqi air force’s fighters and helicopters.
∎ Continue beefing up the Kurdish Peshmurga fighters and providing airstrikes to help the Kurds dislodge the Islamic State from vital targets like Mosul Dam (which was just accomplished).
∎ Allow U.S. air power plus Kurdish and Iraqi army “boots on the ground” to continue to push the Islamic State into Syria, which should be bombed to soften Islamic State bases for invasion.
∎ If the Islamic State tries to escape to Lebanon, the Iraqi army can help the Lebanese army defeat them. If the Islamic State is foolish enough to breach the Israeli border, you can bet Israel will dispose of them like the terrorists they are.
Now, with Syria cleared of Islamic State caliphate dreamers, a reconstituted and moderate resistance containing the seeds of a viable “democratic style regime” should force the regime of Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power – with help from the United States.
The big question is: Can Assad, dictator of a decimated Syria, be replaced by a more inclusive regime before Syria becomes a failed state that attracts extreme Islamist jihadis, who would threaten bordering states such as Israel and Lebanon?
Clearly, the Middle East continues to be an unpredictable and volatile region that must be closely monitored.
(Jack Saunders lives in Holderness.)