Tags: Barack Obama | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | War on Terrorism | ISIS | Obama

WashPost: US Can Degrade but Not Destroy ISIS Threat

Image: WashPost: US Can Degrade but Not Destroy ISIS Threat
(Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

Friday, 12 Sep 2014 08:05 AM

President Barack Obama clearly defined his objective during his address to the nation this week about the increasing threat of the Islamic State (ISIS)  – he planned to degrade and "ultimately destroy" the brutal terror group.

In the 13 years since the attacks of 9/11, the United States has weakened al-Qaida and its off-shoots to a point where the danger to America has been vastly reduced. Ultimately, however, the country has not been able to destroy these enemies, The Washington Post reports.

After winning wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of covert operations, and thousands of drone strikes, the United States is still a long way from eradicating the danger of al-Qaida affiliates in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, where counterterrorism operations by special forces and the CIA are still ongoing, according to the Post.

And now, with the emergence in just the past few months of the violent Islamic State, another al-Qaida-linked organization, the endless string of conflicts leads many foreign policy observers to believe that America is now in a constant state of war.

"We're not going to see an end to this in our lifetime," said Charles Wald, a retired Air Force general who was in charge during the initial 2001 air war in Afghanistan.

And while noting airstrikes will erode Islamic State power and help Iraqis and Kurds to recapture territories seized by the jihadists, he told the Post, "There isn't going to be any time where we all of a sudden can declare victory. This is what the world is going to be like for us for a long time."

And his fears will have been enhanced by a new CIA report that ISIS forces may have tripled to 31,500 fighters due to a recruitment drive, its successes on the battlefields of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, and its desire to create a caliphate in the Middle East.

The danger that the Sunni militants of ISIS pose to the United States has also been exacerbated by the vast amount of arms and cash the terrorists have grabbed during their rampage, the Post reported.

After robbing banks and over-running oil fields, the Islamic State is now believed to have resources and a source of income far greater than any other al-Qaida affiliate. With its financial capability, Obama warned in his speech that if left unchecked, the terror group could set their sights on American targets at home and abroad.

Ironically, the United States believed it had ultimately destroyed al-Qaida in Iraq with the help of Sunni tribal leaders it had funded. By the time American forces pulled out of Iraq in 2011, intelligence officials estimates that it had lost 95 percent of its fighters, according to the Post.

But due to the growing outrage by Sunnis extremists in Iraq over the Shiite-controlled government, the offshoot eventually regrouped, renounced its ties to al-Qaida and rebranded itself as the Islamic State, the newspaper added.

"Defeating a group doesn't necessarily mean you will have been successful at eradicating every single person who was ever aligned with the group," Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said recently about the Islamic State.

"Even if you've been successful at eliminating the threat that they pose, it doesn't mean every single person ever affiliated with the group will have adopted a new worldview."


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President Barack Obama clearly defined his objective during his address to the nation this week about the increasing threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) — he planned to degrade and "ultimately destroy" the brutal terror group.
ISIS, Obama, Iraq, Syria, airstrikes, Islamic State
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2014-05-12
Friday, 12 Sep 2014 08:05 AM
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