Monday, July 06, 2015

A new and "better late than never" comment from Obama on confronting ISIS

After his meeting at the Pentagon today to discuss ISIS and terrorist threats with the generals, President Obama made public comments.  These included the statement that the fighting against ISIS and the degree of vigilance required will not accomplish our country's goals in the short term.  It will take time and he mentioned "at least two years".  He listed the accomplishments to date in retaking cities in Iraq and in attacking key ISIS targets and supply routes in Syria.  His audience was both the American people and the many nations with stakes in the outcome, and by definition he was characteristically optimistic about the longer term.  Whether too positive about accomplishments to date is a question worth asking, and the answer is generally unknowable.

The one new comment was one said casually as if it was normal, but it definitely was not.  He said that the U.S. would be working to fund and arm "tribal groups" like Peshmerga and moderate Sunni tribes.  One can be sure that the Kurdistan province leaders who fund and lead Peshmerga were not thrilled to be called a "tribe", but maybe that's just Obamaspeak for avoiding any insult to the Shiite Iraqi central government that he continues to favor.

Eyes Not Sold has called for Obama to arm and fund the Kurdish army and moderate Sunni tribal groups for over year, maybe two years.  Whether this was just a political statement by Obama and he is simply asking the Iraqi Central government to pass on weapons and funds to those groups or whether the U.S. has the will and takes the initiative to use power to do it directly is unknown.  If not done directly from the U.S., this is just an empty statement.  If the U.S. deals directly with those fighting groups it will be welcome and necessary.  After the Iraqi "Army" gave up billions dollars of U.S. supplied equipment to ISIS last year, moderate Sunnis and the Peshmerga, "actual fighting groups", have been at  a disadvantage.  Will Obama finally follow through on providing real significant military aid and money to these groups and not solely rifles, food, and medical supplies? What he said implies that he has finally changed course.  Or did he just say it?


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