Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Obama Outlines Significant Expansion of Fight against ISIL

Degrade and Ultimately Destroy’ Insurgents
President Barack Obama said in a major speech tonight that he was ordering the U.S. military to significantly expand the campaign against the Islamic State, including airstrikes in Syria. The president broadened the mission from defending American personnel and humanitarian work to forming a global coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the insurgents.

“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, whenever they are,” Obama said. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe heaven.”

The president also said he will send nearly 500 more military advisors to Iraq.; and the United States will arm and train the Syrian opposition.

Obama’s remarks were made on the eve of the 13th anniversary of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Photo credit: President Obama, in a speech to the nation,  explaining U.S. strategy for confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; 10 September 2014. (The New York Times)


Mark Pyruz said...

I was going to write a post identifying the flaws and weaknesses in Obama's stated strategy but found COL Lang, USA (Ret) has already articulated more of them, in detail:

"Too many moving parts, too many"

I would just add that failure to include the Syrian government in the U.S.-led war against ISIL also serves to undermine the United Nations; as without Syrian inclusion, it is highly unlikely Russia and China will agree to a UNSC resolution on the war.

While I'm not surprised, I am disappointed in seeing these flaws and weaknesses in the president's strategy.

Nader Uskowi said...

Assad and his brutal dictatorship are parts of the problem, not solution. Extremism grows, here the Islamic State, when a non-inclusive, sectarian government wants to rule relying on its army and secret police, in Syria for more than four decades.

Formation of a national unity, inclusive government in Damascus is key to victory over the Islamic State. Assad has lost credibility to form such government, much the same as Maliki had in Baghdad. Assad should follow Maliki’s example and let another Syrian politician acceptable to all factions form a government. He should put Syria first.

Anonymous said...

Who else is there that could possibly take over from assad?,like it or not assad represents the secular government and a syria that does not discriminate between the various ethnic groups/religions unlike the various islamist groups who would murder/expel all the non sunnis,the idea that if assad steps down then the government and the so called moderate "head choppers",who increasingly seem to be aligning themselves with isis or are simply being wiped out by them,could team up to fight isis is a joke.The only way it might work is if there was a reconciliation but that would mean that the so called "moderates" would have to accept assad as president.The choice syria faces now is a stark one its either assad or a failed state/caliphate run by jihadi warlords,assad isnt perfect but his syria is light years ahead of a failed state/wahabist caliphate.Getting rid of maliki didnt make the sunnis more reliable or less pro isis,the vast bulk of the effort against isis in iraq is by iran,the shia militias and the kurds,all his stepping down achieved was allowing the americans to save face

Nader Uskowi said...

Are you saying that the country, with its illustrious history, does not have a single person except Assad to qualify as president? That’s a sad commentary on your part. I do not agree. Assad is partly responsible for turning peaceful demonstrations during the height of the Arab Spring into a hostile and bloody armed affair. And later he ignored the advances by the Islamic State terrorists in eastern parts of the country for long time, because ISIL terrorists were killing the opposition forces.

Those two wrong-headed policies have now come back to haunt Assad: ISIL has taken over Syrian military bases in the east, beheading and mass killing Syrian soldiers, belittling the Syrian state, and establishing a state of their own in eastern Syria. Assad's long-time supporters, most importantly those affiliated with the Alawite sect, are now having second thoughts about his leadership, or lack of, and his repeated empty claims that he is winning the war. Maliki has shown the way for Assad: Syria is first, and Assad should step down, sooner the better.

Paul Iddon said...

Well said Nader.

Anonymous said...

Nader UskowiSeptember 11, 2014 at 9:39 AM
And just who would you replace him with then?,he represents the continuity,legitimacy and sovereignty of the government and without those things you dont have a government,you just have another armed group.It was the insurgents and their foreign backers who made the rise of isis possible not assad.Iraq is on the verge of fragmenting into a failed state and the removal of the democratically elected malaki has done absolutely nothing to prevent that,only force of arms can halt that,the same is also true in syria,removing maliki far from strengthening the government just weakened it still further and the same would happen to the syrian govt if assad stood down.If the "moderate" head choppers are so concerned about isis the smartest thing they could do would be to lay down their arms and reconcile with the government

Anonymous said...

Thge American are fighting since 9.11.2001 with Al Kaida -
The Rsult:
Al-kaida is mutated to more dangerous ISIS

Anonymous said...

Agreed about Assad's undeniable responsibility in all this, but I find that you grant the western side and specially the US with a too far-reaching legitimacy to act in ways of their choosing both before and during crises plaguing foreign regions, including the application of military force devoid of any consideration for state sovereignty (or what's left of it anyway), and so all over the regions it pleases, and furthermore precisely where they happen to share themselves some significant responsibility for the ongoing mayhem in the first place. Indeed, why not put an at least an equal emphasis on the responsibility of several US-supported GCC accomplices now self-proclaiming in the camp of the hastily formed "anti-ISIS coalition" in as an opportunistic way as it is insulting for anyone with even a slight degree of knowledge of widely available information sources ranging all the way from leftwing to rightwing media outlets of all obediences stating unquestionable, intimate financial and military links between their governments and the very core components of what was once an integral part of Al-Qaeda, and this long before it split into two competing entities we know today as ISIS and Al-Nusra ? and this with total, at least tacit support from their all-time superpower patron ?
Obviously, I am not questioning the existence of legitimate factions of non-jihadist opposition groups comprising the FSA simply fighting for a democratic Syria, and their once steady growth in the face of all-out bloody repression of the Assad regime in the opening weeks of a popular uprising. Same for the dictator's ill-thought Machiavellian plans at weakening moderate, secular rebel groups by selectively ignoring ISIS at first and getting embroiled himself with the prospect of national disintegration because of that very group today, a bit like what happened with the US and their Mujahidins in 1980s Afghanistan that then turned into various derivations of anti-US Taliban splinter groups after defeating pro-USSR presence.
Still, I blame western governments for willingly ignoring a strong and pronounced imprint of Al-Qaeda related elements within the main factions of anti-Assad coalitions, closing their eyes or looking the other way in the face of their widespread, terrible abuses against the local population in every town they overtook, the very phenomenon Assad used to regain popularity both in the eyes of its army and its population, whom ultimately found themselves faced with catastrophic dilemma : having to choose between witnessing their country fall under the clutches of primitive, savage individuals slowly turning back the hands of time to the bad old days of medieval caliphates, and the persistence of a tolerant, secular state with at least a true degree of respect for religious minorities, albeit with an otherwise dictatorial nature in terms of governance.
Indeed Nor Al-Nusra or its splinter group ISIS stemmed from the sole mistakes and abuses of authoritarian leaders, would it be in terms of manpower, finances of weapons. The latter attributes of their warfighting abilities indeed came from support of regional forces willing to destroy vital Iranian allies in what they saw as a possible ways of provoking the demise of their long-time Shiite foe, and having no interest whatsoever in what could become of the Syrian state or its people in the process, and certainly not interested in making it a secular country, but rather acted in a cold geopolitical gamble.
Despite the role of Assad in creating a favorable environment for the rise of such obscurantism, supporting the president of a pyromaniac firefighting US government first just watching the spread of those psychopathic extremists to the point of threatening every possible national entity in their vicinity and then only , highly selectively start to reluctantly bomb parts of their forces while trading further intervention to the appointment of US-friendly members in governments is quite suspect to say the least, and viciously smart to call it what it is.

B.M.A said...

You are a resolute defender of your stances,!!!!. NOW this is what you and the BOD missed on the issue of SYRIA-

@-you are saying that Assad has 'lost credibility' -what a joke Nader!- HE is more popular now than ever ,and the SYRIAN people hate the cunning US even more for its blind blanket support of the RATS .of course al Qaida was waiting in the wings to take advantage of the turmoil.THE most noble thing was for the US to demand a free and fair poll,not to support ,and arm ,train,the opposition.

@-Another episode highlighting the failed hypocritical policies of the US- cant speak about Syria to the world with a straight face !- remember JOHN McCain visiting these people the other day?.What assurance can the US give to the world that these elements they are training in Jordan are not Qaida only pretending to be moderate.The UN must hail Assad for holding the Nation together for all those years amid evil machinations and betrayal from the West.

@- IT IS back to square one for the US President.coming to his senses that the US is threatened .and THIS IS WHAT IRAN had feared all along-that ASSAD's fall by the grace of the US would throw Syria INTO A Libya or Somalia and this would invite extremists to fill the void !

@ And Nader you've been singing this song about Assad brutality and secret police for four years But you know better than anybody else that LIBYA under the brutal rule .of Gaddafi was far much better as a Nation with a bright future than a 'democratic' Libya today liberated by the US and allies-

i mean a SAUDI Arabia under the grip of a tyrannical al Saudi family rule for almost a century would be far much better than one liberated by the bombs of the Beacon of democracy.

Nader Uskowi said...

@12:16 PM,
Thanks for great comments. The discussion thread here, however, was about Assad and his ability, or lack of, to form a government of national unity to fight ISIL. You are more interested to discuss the U.S. foreign policy; an important issue, but slightly off the topic. To the question if Assad is able to bring back the nation together and lead a united fight against the Islamic State, my answer is an unqualified NO. Please share your thoughts on this question as well.

Nader Uskowi said...


Assad has promised his supporters, especially the Alawites, that he was winning the war. Instead hundreds of thousands of Alawites and other supporters have been killed in the three-year old conflict, and after all the fighting, the situation on the ground is as bad as ever: The Islamic State insurgents, which Assad did not initially attack, thinking they were doing him a great service killing the opposition, now practically controls the eastern parts of the country; has occupied two major military bases in that region; beheaded Syrian army officers; staged mass killings of Syrian soldiers; and has practically established their rule over that territory. That’s the reason Assad has lost his credibility, and that is not a joke as you took it that way.

Like some other commentators here, you also prefer to discuss issues off the topic of this discussion thread. But let me take you back to the question under discussion above: Can Assad unite all Syrians, including the country’s majority Sunni population, in forming a government of national unity to defeat ISIL and bring back normalcy to Syria? My answer is NO. He’s been way too involved in the killings and excluding the majority Sunnis and other internal opponents to be a credible as a uniting figure for the country, something needed to defeat ISIL.

Anonymous said...

Thank you as well Nader. So the topic here is not about Obama's legitimacy in ordering unwarranted and uncoordinated strikes inside Syrian territory and possibly from Syrian airspace, nor was it the very strategy presented to defeat ISIS, but rather Assad's responsibility in the bloodthirsty terrorist group's ascendance to its current posture and sway ? My mistake if such was the case. The title and the article speak about a global strategy and your emphasis was geared quasi exclusively against Assad, I thought I could contribute to the discussion by putting some blame on the other side as well where I deemed it equally cynical and responsible on the issue discussed, that is all. As for your question, I find it widely and repeatedly adressed within my previous post everytime I referred to his initial role in the conflict.

Nader Uskowi said...

I thought you were responding to the eight comments above, which were dealing with Assad, especially as your original comments were posted as replies to the previous ones, and not as a new comment. But that's quite all right. You have indeed contributed to the discussion of issues facing Syria.

Anonymous said...

For my part I never felt the need to steer a given discussion off-topic in order to gain more argumentative weight Mr. Uskowi. To remain specifically in your logic, I'd ask in turn : is the US more qualified morally than any other actor to posture yet again as some sort of messianic savior holding the beacon of leadership for a reborn "axis of the good" in order to rid a given region of its troubles ? how honest and sincere can their highly measured action be ever since they started to step back into the mix militarily, after obviously a great deal of deeply-thought calculations with their allies ? also considering they remain largely responsible for the very existence and growth of that unholy mixture of forces that is ISIL today, no matter how liable local leaders, and specially Assad, are as well? weren't they the ones consciously heating up the camp of the so-called "moderate" resistance groups while their principal proxies on the ground, namely Gulf regimes, barely even hid their many affiliations and sympathy to the worst fringe of reactionary, often foreign combatants composing the umbrella of anti-government forces, that rapidly became the most efficient, dominant fighting force and hence the determining factor on the ground that were Islamic groups, Al-Nusra being the most potent before it gave rise to ISIL ? were they blind or have they become so helpless in keeping a tight leech on what their most dependent minions cook in the corner ? I don't believe either hypothesis, and those secondary countries couldn't have achieved a fraction of their ambitions and manipulations, had their US patron actively refused their initiatives, and given them the necessary "incentives" to refrain from further destabilization.

Indeed, can we decently accept some sort of yet again self-proclaimed leadership and moral high ground today from a country which yesterday bore so much direct, blatant and still visible responsibility in the many catastrophic geopolitical developments occurring today in Iraq, together with other opportunists and vultures on the ground like the Iranian and Saudi regimes, and in NO way less blamable than even the worst of despots in place both in Baghdad or Damascus for the successful rise of the most extreme and backward groups the region has ever seen ?

To these questions in turn, my answer would be a big Nay as well. Their current stance towards a region they were among the very first to draw first blood for so many years since 1991 and that brought hundreds of thousands of deaths all the way to their invasion of choice that occurred in defiance of every international regulations, should serve as a valid reminder to illustrate the fact that they are no more a long-term solution to the region's trouble than Assad or Maliki.

Even though, despite everything I have said, ISIL has unfortunately become so uniquely powerful and the need to put an end to its genocidal momentum so urgent, that I can objectively support the many big guns that the US of A can bring to the table faster and in bigger numbers than anyone. But they waited long enough, and started by defending exclusively their most critical allies, using their firepower as political leverage when it came to Baghdad. It is a calculation, which holds no less and no more human sincerity than any other actors involved, no matter how epic, brave and noble Mr. Obama tries to paint himself and his country's political class today that deserve no specific praise. They are pragmatic and can't afford ISIL more than Iran, Iraq or Syria.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nader,Why every one want to be a secular or unity government from Shite ruled countries.Any time any one asked this question to Corrupt, obnoxious and bribed oriented persian gulf Arab kingdoms. Assad is of same breed of Arabs but why only Assad quit why not Arab kingdoms rulers.look what happened in Libya after Gaddfi on the name of Democracy now Libya is no more a country. Some Arab countries like Persian gulf Frog 'Qatar' sending its commandos for fight to established Democracy in Libya but in their own country only Shekhdom. Now at present all such timid monarchies are biggest financier to ISIS through Charities to Promote Wahabism , it is now a well established truth and West Knows that but silent for getting more arms order from Arab monarchies. So Mr.Nader only follow the West perception is not mean that you become more advanced and educated and true journalist. Rizvi/India

Nader Uskowi said...

Fair questions. Few points:

1. All Middle Eastern countries are better off to set aside sectarian rule and have secular and progressive governments; including Iran, Saudi Arabia and all GCC countries; Syria; Jordan; Iraq and Egypt. Sectarianism and religious fundamentalism are limiting factors for the aspirations and potentials of the peoples of that region.

2. The region was once in the forefront of civilization in the world. It need to once again claim the norms of civilization. In our time, those norms include accepting principles of human rights and abolishing all vestiges of state discrimination, including discrimination based on religion, sect or gender.

3. The anger among the youths in the region, which has led some to accept extremist religious fundamentalism, the types espoused by organizations like ISIL, is real. The information revolution and globalism has passed by their societies and all they see is corruption at highest levels of their governments and rapidly falling behind advanced countries, with oil or without oil. That’s the tragedy of the region. ISIL’s answers are going back to societies of early years of Islam. Progressive people in the entire region should challenge their reactionary and anti-revolutionary ideology. They can, and should, offer a progressive alternative, the alternative to the current governments in most of the region, Shia and Sunni alike.