Mitt Romney suggested he would have been able to prevent the rise of the jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) if he were elected rather than President Barack Obama in 2012 during a radio interview that aired Sunday. According to Romney, Obama’s “mistakes” enabled Islamic State to gain power in both Syria and Iraq.
“Mistakes were made and now we have ISIS,” Romney said in a pre-taped interview on billionaire John Catsimatidis’ show on New York City’s AM 970.
Romney argued Islamic State would not have gained ground if America had adopted his 2012 plan for dealing with the revolution against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“If you go back a few years when Syria fell into revolution and tumult, when rebels were pushing against Assad, I laid out what I thought was a prudent course for us to see stability in Syria,” said Romney. “Had we followed that course, there’s a good chance you would not see an ISIS today.”
Romney, who left the door at least slightly open to a potential 2016 campaign in an interview last week, said the plan he presented in the last race included doing more to back and arm “moderate revolutionaries” in Syria. He also said he wanted to ensure Assad’s tribe, the Alawites, that they would have a future in the country without the current regime.
“These kind of actions would have stabilised Syria, at least I believe so, and would have prevented the growth of a group like ISIS,” explained Romney.
Since gaining power in Syria, Islamic State has moved into Iraq where it has seized control of several cities. Romney argued Obama failed to take advantage of an opportunity to stop the group before it established itself in Iraq.
“Almost a year ago, American intelligence sources told the president that there was a group forming called ISIS … and that there was a significant chance that they would go into Iraq and invade a city there. The president failed to take action. He watched,” Romney said. “We saw ISIS roll into Iraq and, instead of attacking them immediately and knocking them in their convoy when they would have been easy to knock down, relatively easy to knock down, the president again watched. And now we’re in a position where ISIS has run throughout major portions of Iraq. There have been horrific human rights abuses, tragedies.”
Now, Romney said America is in a “very difficult position” with respect to Islamic State.
“In my view, it is unacceptable for Americans and for the world to see the establishment of a major territory … that is controlled by radical, violent jihadists from which they would clearly launch attacks against our friends and allies throughout the world, but also against us,” said Romney. “So, we must take action, including the air strikes that you’re seeing as necessary to prevent ISIS from becoming a major geographic and economic player.”
Listen to Romney’s full interview with Catsimatidis here.
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