At a press conference following the G7 summit in the Bavarian village Krün, President Barack Obama admitted that the US does not have a complete strategy for countering the Islamic State terror group.
“When a finalised plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people,” Obama said. “We don’t yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well.”
Obama laid out a four-point strategy in September, but critics have slammed his strategy — or lack thereof — in recent weeks as the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) has made territorial gains in Iraq and Syria.
“They’re nimble, they’re aggressive, and they’re opportunistic,” Obama said about ISIS militants.
The strategy Obama described in September included airstrikes, increasing support to allied forces on the ground such as the Iraqi security forces, using counterterrorism methods to cut off ISIS funding and the flow of foreign fighters, and continuing to provide humanitarian support to groups that ISIS is targeting.
Obama noted that the “commitments on the part of the Iraqis” include how training and recruitment, especially of Sunni soldiers and tribesmen, take place.
Obama emphasised that the US and other allied forces have “made some progress, but not enough” on preventing foreign fighters from entering Syria and Iraq.
“We’re taking a lot of them off the battlefield but if they’re being replenished it doesn’t solve the problem in the long term,” he said.
Obama said in September that the goal was to “degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL,” but that goal still seems far off.
From the CEO and editor of Foreign Policy Group:
Notion that policies in Ukraine, Iraq are making progress is simply delusional. No more gentle way to put it. More of same won’t do trick.
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) June 8, 2015
J.M. Berger, who recently coauthored a book on ISIS, wrote in Politico last month that Obama’s repeated references to “tactical” setbacks for US-supported Iraqi forces and lucky breaks for ISIS in capturing territory “is code for saying that the enemy is not ‘strategic,'” which does not seem to be the case with ISIS.
Middle East experts have pointed out that ISIS is using religion and Islamic law to establish a social contract with the Muslims living in its territory, demanding taxes and adherence to its strict version of Sharia law in exchange for goods and services.
These policies indicate that ISIS’ strategy is rooted in long-term dominance rather than short-term gains.
Here’s a video of Obama’s statements on Monday:
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