Latest News:

Trump tells FBI: ‘I have your back 100%’ -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mueller requests emails from Trump campaign data firm: report -

Friday, December 15, 2017

GOP changes child tax credit in bid to win Rubio’s vote -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Trump Jr. is berated for tweet about ‘Obama’s FCC’ chair, net ‘neutality’ -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry on 19 May 2018 -

Friday, December 15, 2017

Walt Disney buys Murdoch’s Fox for $52.4bn -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Roy Moore says Alabama election ‘tainted’ by outside groups -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Eric Holder warns GOP: ‘Any attempt to remove Bob Mueller will not be tolerated’ -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Former British prime minister: Trump attacks on press are ‘dangerous’ -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

China says war must not be allowed on Korean peninsula -

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Megyn Kelly left Fox News in part due to O’Reilly: report -

Saturday, April 15, 2017

North Korea warns against U.S. ‘hysteria’ as it marks founder’s birth -

Friday, April 14, 2017

British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia -

Thursday, April 13, 2017

China warns against force as North Korea prepares celebration -

Thursday, April 13, 2017

U.S. drops ‘mother of all bombs’ on Islamic State in Afghanistan -

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Boris Johnson calls off Moscow visit over Syria -

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Los Angeles Clippers vs Utah Jazz,Atlanta Hawks vs Portland Blazers -

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trump national security aide Flynn resigns over Russian contacts -

Monday, February 13, 2017

Israel bars Peru’s fugitive ex-leader Alejandro Toledo -

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Germany president: Steinmeier chosen by lawmakers -

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Obama’s Isis quandary: clock ticks on viable strategy as criticism intensifies

Saul Loeb,AFP,Getty Images

When Air Force One next touches down on US soil, at an Alaskan refuelling stop on Sunday, Barack Obama will have completed a week-long circumnavigation of a world that can rarely have felt further from his control.

The president flew east from a shell-shocked G20 summit in Turkey to meetings with Asia-Pacific leaders that had been designed to reassure them about China. His trip was overshadowed by bloodshed in Paris and Mali, chaos in the Middle East and political warfare back in Washington.

Linking it all, Obama’s strategy for defeating Islamic State is under question as never before. Not just from Republican critics whose doubts have triggered a nationalist backlash over Syrian refugees, but also from his more hawkish would-be successor Hillary Clinton and even French president François Hollande, who arrives in Washington on Tuesday to demand a more urgent global effort against Isis.

On Friday evening, a United Nations security council resolution called Isis “a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security” and said all able member states should take “all necessary measures”.

Obama has responded with emotions rarely seen during his stoical administration: anger at “hysterical” politicians back home, sorrow at the thought of sending US troops into another Middle East war he fears would be unwinnable, and petulance in the face of those who question his resolve.

The frustration is understandable, for in between the dramatic headlines and calls for all-out war, there have been glimpses of just how limited the US president’s room for manoeuvre has become.

One such source of realism has been the Pentagon, which quietly released a report on Friday detailing the latest deaths of Iraqi civilians in one of its many airstrikes against Isis. Coming just hours after Clinton called for a stepped-up air campaign and greater use of US special forces in Iraq and Syria, it made for sobering reading.

As a car full of women and children fled the captured Iraqi city of Mosul for the relative security of Baghdad this March, it was stopped at an Isis checkpoint – only to be targeted by American A-10 pilot who wrongly assumed the long delay was suspicious.

The rare admission of error from the Pentagon nonetheless excuses the pilot by claiming four civilian passengers revealed themselves only six seconds before the rounds hit and one – chillingly described as having a “signature smaller than the other persons” – was seen on camera just one second before the air onslaught began.

Iraqi sources who spoke to the Guardian this week say it is exactly such risks that have hamstrung the coalition campaign against Isis.

On the one hand, many feel the US was slow to respond to the fall of Mosul and has been reluctant to escalate coalition efforts against a seemingly more determined enemy.



On the other hand, the sight of returning American military forces and civilian casualties provokes suspicion and anger that can easily become counter-productive in the face of Isis propaganda.

The city of Ramadi, where the Pentagon said fighting was at a near standstill this week, due to dozens of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), could more easily be recaptured with the help of Apache attack helicopters and US special forces. But the resentment this would likely cause would only heighten the risk of its falling to extremists again.

Similarly, the destruction last Sunday of dozens of tanker trucks used by Isis to smuggle oil out of Syria was welcomed by many Iraqis as a smart way to choke off foreign funding. But the mission was delayed by weeks before Paris because US planners were worried about the danger of killing civilian drivers.

Finding more such targets faster – as Clinton and the French are now urging – is far from simple either.

Thomas Sanderson, director of the transnational threats project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is one of many in Washington who believes Obama should take a “more aggressive stance” but acknowledges he could do so at the top of a slippery slope.

“We don’t have guys on the ground to provide targeted intelligence and I think we need to let those who were trained to do these things and are willing to do these things get on the ground and do that,” he said.

“That brings considerable risks such as a hostage situation with an American forward air controller or CIA case officer who goes in to develop human intelligence sources inside Syria.”

Another recurring sentiment among sympathetic observers could be summed up as: “if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here.” A diplomatic source working for one of America’s closest allies in the region suggested opportunities to nip Isis in the bud were missed.

“If firmer action had been taken two years ago, a lot of these issues could have been prevented,” the source said. “Now it is much harder to control, but there are still steps that can be taken.”

Yet many analysts believe it was simply unrealistic for Obama to overthrow the Assad regime and thus pre-empt the present crisis.

“There are many things that could have been done differently but a collection of half-measures would not have changed the battlefield arc,” said Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert and former adviser to secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations.

“You would have needed a serious, comprehensive strategy from the get-go but it would have gone beyond what the president or his cabinet were willing to embark on and what Congress was willing to accept.”



Making the calculation harder for Obama, the crisis has impinged less directly on the US than Europe. This is in part because of geography: for the millions of refugees pouring out of Syria, America is an ocean away.

This, some Europeans believe, has left Washington slow to appreciate the scale of the challenge. When Hollande visits the White House on Tuesday, he is expected to press Obama for more urgent action.

“The message that we want to send to the Americans is simply that the crisis is destabilising Europe,” said another western diplomat. “The problem is that the attacks in Paris and the refugee crisis show that we don’t have time. There is an emergency.”

But Miller, a vice-president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, believes there was very little that could have been done to avoid this.

“What would have worked would have been too risky,” he said. “And what was too risky would have been unacceptable. So I think this situation was virtually inevitable.”

Source: The Guardian

Comments are closed.

Yahoo! Status Checker by Techya