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US Anti-ISIS Strategy Still Incomplete, Obama Admits

Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK-cc

John Burger - published on 06/08/15 - updated on 06/08/17

Key city of Baiji said to be retaken from ISIS

The US does not yet have a "complete strategy" for helping Iraq regain territory from the Islamic State group, President Barack Obama said Monday, according to the BBC.

The stumbling block, he said, has to do with a lack of commitment from the Iraqis themselves, he said during the G7 summit in Germany, where he had earlier met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi [pictured above, in January, with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond].

But good news emerged the same day when a spokesman for the Iraqi defense ministry announced that Iraqi forces were in control of the oil refinery city of Baiji, CNN reported.

"Forces have cleansed and are in control completely of government complex, city center, Fatah mosque (main mosque) and surrounding neighborhoods," said Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim.  He credited the U. S. with "a significant role supporting" Iraqi ground forces in the assault.

Obama said that a full commitment to the process was needed by the Iraqis. US officials said a lack of training was a major factor in the fall of Ramadi​, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province, last month.

There are 3,000 US service personnel in Iraq, but Obama said, "We don’t have, yet, a complete strategy, because it requires commitments on the part of Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place. We want to get more Iraqi security forces trained, fresh, well-equipped and focused and Abadi wants the same thing so we’re reviewing a range of plans for how we might do that."

The Pentagon, he said, is reviewing ways to help Iraq train and equip its forces.

He added that it was important to draw Sunni Muslims into the fight. "We’ve seen Sunni tribes who are not only willing and prepared to fight ISIL, but have been successful," he said. "But it has not been happening as fast as it needs to."

The retaking of Baiji is a development that holds out hope for an eventual recapture of Mosul, however, a city where many Christians were evicted last summer when ISIS moved in. 

And according to a report in the New York Times, American intelligence agencies have extracted valuable information about ISIS’s leadership structure, financial operations and security measures by analyzing materials seized during a Delta Force commando raid last month that killed a leader of the terrorist group in eastern Syria.

But such news, and the president’s putting the burden on the Iraqis, was not convincing for critics, such as the Republican National Committee, which asked Monday, "What has President Obama been doing for the last 10 months?"  

House Speaker John Boehner took the attack another step, responding to Obama with a tweet of a popular shrugging emoticon of a person shrugging ("¯_(ツ)_/¯ ") as a shorter summary of Obama’s strategy, according to CNN

Obama said during an August press conference his administration was still devising a way to fight ISIS.

Tags:
IraqIslamist MilitantsPolitics
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