Tags: Al-Qaida | America's Forum | Emerging Threats | Exclusive Interviews | Iraq | Iraq in Crisis | Middle East

Walid Phares: Indecision Is Obama's Decision

By Melissa Clyne   |   Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 12:46 PM

President Barack Obama has had plenty of strategy options for combating the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Mideast, but he has simply opted for indecision, Middle East expert Walid Phares said Tuesday on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."

"From what we know is that there were multiple scenarios presented by the various departments, of course there were strategies, but he did not actually adopt one because these strategies — each one of these strategies — have different conclusions," Phares said.

"One of the strategies, for example, was to operate only in Iraq. The other one was to have a partner in Syria that would be the regime, a third one was to operate with the minorities. The thing the administration did not do is to choose which strategy they want to actually adopt," Phares said.

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Appearing with retired Master Sgt. Scott Neil — a 25-year Special Forces veteran who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq — Phares, author of "The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid," said it's critical that the administration purge the Islamic State and then focus on the bigger picture.

"At the end of the day we need to dismantle ISIS. We definitely need to roll back ISIS, but it presents some problems," Phares said. "Number one, most important one, when we push back against ISIS, should it be after airstrikes? After special operations hitting the bank accounts? After all of that ISIS will be weakened. The bigger question is, who will replace ISIS?"

Hezbollah, Iran, the Assad regime from Syria, or the jihadi competitors of the Islamic State may all try to fill the gap left when ISIS is purged, according to Phares.

"This is why I'm very concerned about any strategy that would only focus on weakening ISIS and then leaving and then get the other devil coming in and then we're going to have another problem so we want to make sure we have real partners for the future after ISIS," Phares said.

Neil pointed out that the U.S. military has been combating terrorists and terror organizations for over a decade "and we're very competent in that area, but right now there is no policy on what this country should do."

"We have to take decisive action for our own interest and not start by making sure everybody's fully on board, fully informed, the press is with us and consensus is built," the Special Forces veteran said. "We have to show leadership and attack this very strongly."

"It is about leadership right now. We cannot stop the bus we need to start movement right now and there's this kind of trend where we have to have this very solid coalition and everybody's on board and we're all moving together, but that really shows a lack of leadership. We can move out, we can provide purpose and direction and others will rally behind us," Neil said.

He suggested attacking ISIS with small groups of "highly trained, culturally aware" Special Forces soldiers.

"They're master problem solvers and if it's lethal then they can solve that problem, but if it's humanitarian they can solve that problem as well," Neil said.

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