Tags: Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | Pete Hoekstra | Michael Hayden | question | ISIS | strategy

Hoekstra, Hayden Slam Obama's Strategy as ISIS Nears Turkish Border

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 08:55 PM

The warning by Turkey's president on Tuesday that the Islamic State (ISIS) was close to capturing a key Syrian town on the Turkish border proved that Obama administration's strategy to destroy the terrorist group was not working, foreign policy experts told Newsmax.

"It would be very disappointing," former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra said. "It would demonstrate that the strategies that were put in place to date to confront and contain the Islamic State are not working and are not effective."

Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden said the ISIS threat to Kobani would cast a huge "psychological impact" on President Barack Obama's vow to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the terrorist group.

"If Kobani is to fall, in the face of what our government has said it was going to do, the psychological impact of that would be quite strong," he told Newsmax.

"We had promised to turn the tide on ISIS — to not only to contain them, but to destroy them," Hayden added. "And here they are, expanding their territory and taking over an important town.

"Operations like this take time to have effect, but that said, the psychological impact of a success of this nature and of this magnitude — even in the face of what we said we would do — certainly does nothing to harm ISIS's image in the jihadist world," he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Tuesday that Islamic State terrorists were close to seizing Kobani, a city of about 45,000 people, despite weeks of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.

He called for greater cooperation with Syrian opposition forces, who are fighting both ISIS and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The outgunned Kurdish fighters struggling to defend Kobani have been helped a bit by the U.S.-led airstrikes, but they have done little to blunt the Islamic State — and the terrorists have relentlessly shelled the town in preparation for a final assault.

"Kobani is about to fall," Erdogan told Syrian refugees in the Turkish town of Gaziantep, near the border. "We asked for three things: One, for a no-fly zone to be created; Two, for a secure zone parallel to the region to be declared; and for the moderate opposition in Syria and Iraq to be trained and equipped."

Erdogan's comments, however, did not signal a shift in Turkey's position: He continues to say that Ankara wanted to see a more comprehensive strategy for Syria before it commits to military involvement in the coalition.

Turkish tanks and other ground forces have been stationed along the border within a few hundred yards of the fighting in Kobani, but have not intervened. Just days ago, Turkey said that it would not let Kobani fall to the Islamic State, but Erdogan gave no indication Tuesday that the government would move forcefully to protect it.

In capturing Kobani, ISIS would gain a direct link between its positions in the Syrian province of Aleppo and its stronghold of Raqqa, which is to the east. It would also give the terrorist group full control of a large stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border.

"They’ve obviously captured a lot of territory around there already," said Hoekstra, who served eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before leaving office to run unsuccessfully for Michigan governor in 2010. "This is one of the last outposts.

"It would be a blow to the Syrian Kurds. It would be a blow to the efforts as identified by the coalition," he said. "It would not be good news.

"We were hoping that the strategy was going to work. That this was not containment, this was to roll them back — and that's why them having more success is of pretty grave concern," Hoekstra said.

But if Erdogan is so alarmed at ISIS seizing Kobani, "I'm just curious as to what actions Turkey might take," Hayden noted. He has directed both the CIA and the National Security Agency.

"They’re the ones who are going to get the refugees, so this may inspire the Turkish government to be more active participants in the coalition."

The Islamic State's three-week onslaught has forced more than 200,000 people to flee Kobani and surrounding villages — and activists say more than 400 people have been killed in the fighting. The violence of Syria's civil war has reached Turkey's doorstep.

The United States and five Arab allies began the airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria on Sept. 23 with the aim of rolling back and ultimately crushing the group. The U.S. has been bombing ISIS targets in neighboring Iraq since August.

The coalition stepped up its efforts on Tuesday with the use of low-flying Apache AH-64 attack helicopters against ISIS fighters in Fallujah, according to news reports.

Despite the ISIS march toward Kobani, neither Hoekstra nor Hayden see the terrorists attacking Turkey, a NATO ally.

"It is much better equipped than what the Kurdish fighters are in either Iraq or in Syria," Hokestra told Newsmax. "They may turn their sights somewhere else. I'm not sure that they're ready to engage or confront Turkey.

"They are in an area where right now they are outgunning everybody," he said of ISIS. "If they go into Turkey, they're going to find that they're going to be outgunned. I don't see them going in that direction.

"Turkey's a much different animal than Iraq or Syria, where the Islamic State has enjoyed its success to date," Hoekstra said.

Besides, "they've got plenty of wars on their hands," Hayden observed of ISIS. "They have other things that they want or need to do in both Syria and Iraq.

"I am more concerned about the near-term military threat to Jordan than I am to Turkey. They are smaller and more vulnerable to this kind of activity."

The threat of NATO's resources also loom in the background should ISIS move into Kobani.

"Turkey's got the resources on the ground," Hoekstra said. "If they do go into Turkey, the Turks will be expected to provide the ground forces, and NATO would provide the air cover."

Hayden added: "An attack on Turkey would certainly give reason for a lot of people to get more energized than they are because it is a NATO member."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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The warning by Turkey's president on Tuesday that the Islamic State was close to capturing a key Syrian town on the Turkish border proved that Obama administration's strategy to destroy the terrorist group was not working, foreign policy experts told Newsmax. It would be...
Pete Hoekstra, Michael Hayden, question, ISIS, strategy, Turkish, border
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2014-55-07
Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 08:55 PM
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