When asked if the US-led coalition against ISIS was winning or losing, retired four-star General David Petraeus told CBS News, “These are fights where if you’re not winning, you’re probably losing, because time is not on your side.”
Despite US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement that 10,000 Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) militants have been killed since the beginning of nine-month long campaign, Petraeus called the situation “worrisome.”
He added that the loss of Ramadi, the provincial capital of the Anbar province, is”an operational and a strategic setback, a significant one.”
The Obama administration contends that the lsos of Ramadi is a temporary setback, but that’s not how Iraqis are seeing it. Sunni tribes in Anbar — crucial to US success — have reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS, and Baghdad is relying on Iran-backed Shia militias more than ever.
Petraeus continued by saying that “[ISIS] is clearly a threat to the United States, to our allies and partners around the world, and of course, very much in the region, where it’s fomenting instability, violence and indeed, far beyond Iraq and Syria. It’s also into North Africa. It’s even trying to recruit in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
“This is a moment, when you sit back and say, ‘What do we need to do in the military arena? What also do we need to do in the political arena?'”
Militarily, the Obama administration is reluctant to commit more US troops to the fight despite the campaign’s shortcomings.
Earlier this month in an interview with Frontline, America’s top military officer admitted that ISIS caught the US off guard. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey explained that the Pentagon was unprepared when Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, fell to the ISIS in June 2014.
When asked if there were plans on how the US could react to ISIS’ possible seizure of Mosul, Dempsey responded, “Well no, there were not.”
Politically, the US has allowed Iran, which is currently negotiating a nuclear deal with world powers, to entrench itself in the sectarian governments in both Syria and Iraq.
In terms of Syria, the Obama administration has pretty much ignored the civil war for fear of upsetting Tehran.
Petraeus noted that the US “will win again in Iraq, I do think that Iraq can definitely be handled. I think that it can be kept intact.”
However, he added that the US has “got to do a lot more in Syria. … This is already a long war, it’s become longer because of the advent of the Islamic State, and we have to recognise that. And we have to be in it.”
Watch General David Petraeus’ full video interview via CBS News:
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