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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama admitted Sunday that the United States had underestimated the opportunity that a collapsing Syria would provide for jihadist militants to regroup and stage a sudden comeback.

Speaking to CBS News, the president said that former Al-Qaeda fighters driven from Iraq by U.S. and local forces had been able to gather in Syria to form the newly dangerous Islamic State group.

A U.S.-led coalition of Arab and Western allies have begun an air campaign to counter the group, hitting targets in Iraq and Syria, which Obama called “ground zero for jihadists around the world.”

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said, referring to his director of national intelligence.

Asked whether Washington has also overestimated the ability or will of Iraq’s U.S.-trained military to fight the jihadists on its own, Obama said: “That’s true. That’s absolutely true.”

The comments came in advance excerpts of an interview with the 60 Minutes news show, due to air in full later Sunday.

Obama said IS propagandists had become “very savvy” with social media and lured new recruits “who believed in their jihadist nonsense” from Europe, America and Australia, as well as from Muslim countries.

The president said that part of the solution would be military, citing the U.S.-led strikes to deny the IS group territory and resources, but that Syria and Iraq would also have to resolve their political crises.

Iraq has remained divided since the departure of U.S. troops, with the Sunni population alienated by the authoritarian Shiite-led government, and Syria has been in full-blown civil war since 2011.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • FT66

    What astonishes me is: those Al Qaedas which were driven from Iraq went and settle in Syria. Still Assad claims it his country and no one should make any attack without consulting him first. What kind of a country which can’t chase their enemies away and feel contented with them? Is it still a country? Really??

  • itsfun

    Same old story, Obama is blaming everyone except himself for underestimating ISIL. Even though he was briefed every day for 13 months by his staff. He heard about the IRS scandal on TV. Knows nothing about Benghazi. Next week he will be blaming George Bush again.

    • Dominick Vila

      I doubt President Obama will blame George W. Bush. He has never done that. But perhaps he should. ISIL or ISIS is an organization and, incredibly, a popular movement composed of Sunnis, most of whom were members of Saddam’s regime, experienced politicians, and veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. Most importantly, in addition to considerable financial resources, they enjoy popular support, something we never had. Once upon a time, those Sunnis were the glue that kept the fragmented Iraqi society together, and the only obstacle to Iranian expansionism. Our crusade, the removal of Saddam from power, the purges of Sunnis, and their replacement with Shias from government jobs, alienated the most qualified politicians and military officers in the region, and they are now back with a vengeance.
      Nobody knew anything about ISIS a year ago. Until six months or so ago, ISIS was just one of many factions fighting the Assad regime in Syria. The fact that our intelligence agencies were unaware of their long term plans and the extent of the support they enjoy in parts of the Middle East and Persian Gulf highlights the limitations of intelligence gathering, which often depends on the physical presence of spies and informants. Unless Republicans are aware of something that nobody else knew, and they are willing to let everybody know what they learned, how, and when, they will be well served to keep their mouths shut and rally behind our President and our troops.

      • itsfun

        Peter King: Obama ‘Dropped the Ball’ on ISIS, Blames ‘Everyone But Himself’
        Monday, 29 Sep 2014 12:56 PM

        By Sandy Fitzgerald

        President Barack Obama “dropped the
        ball” on the Islamic State (ISIS) and now he’s “trying to blame everyone
        but himself,” New York Republican Rep. Peter King charged Monday,
        saying the intelligence community and lawmakers have known for months
        how dangerous the extremists are.

        “A real leader, a true leader, does not blame other people,” King told
        told NBC’s Luke Russert on Monday’s “The Daily Rundown,” of Obama’s
        statements Sunday that the ISIS threat had been underestimated.

        “We’ve known for over a year how dangerous ISIS was,” King, a member of
        the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees said. “In fact,
        (Lt. Gen. Michael) Flynn from the Defense (Intelligence) Agency
        testified we should expect an offensive by ISIS.”

        Flynn’s testimony was made in February, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, reports Business Insider. It came four months before ISIS’ made its major offensive in northern Iraq, taking massive gains.

        In his remarks, Flynn said ISIS would “probably will attempt to take
        territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” The
        terrorist organization would likely be helped “by itsability to
        concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”

        Flynn also warned that after U.S. troops were pulled out of Iraq at the
        end of 2011, ISIS had “exploited the permissive security environment to
        increase its operations and presence in many locations and has also
        expanded into Syria and Lebanon to inflame tensions throughout the

        King on Monday told Russert that Obama should not blame the intelligence community because it was “very concerned about ISIS.”

        He admitted that nobody could have known the full threat of the
        militants’ actions, but the intelligence community was concerned that
        ISIS was “a real threat.”

        On Sunday, Obama told “60 Minutes”
        correspondent Steve Kroft that “the United States underestimated the
        rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also acknowledged the Iraqi
        army’s inability to successfully tackle the threat.”

        But King insisted that from his role on the Homeland Security committee, he knew about the ISIS threat in 2013.

        “Then throughout fall and certainly of January in this year, we knew
        ISIS was a real threat,” King said. “Then in February, Fallujah fell. We
        had a six or seven month lead-up to this.”

        But months later, in July and August, “the president was acting as if he just heard about (ISIS).”

        Even in a worst-case scenario, said King, the United States did not know
        about ISIS until the fall of Fallujah in February, “that’s seven months

        And the president had “all this time to work out a plan, to try to line
        up a coalition,” King said. “Instead, instead, he didn’t. (Like) last
        year with Syria, he threatened air strikes and didn’t follow through.”

        Meanwhile, King believes “someone” has to put troops on the ground in the fight against ISIS.

        “We have almost 2,000 troops on the ground as it is,” pointed out King.
        “We are going to have to use special forces in some ways. We’ll have to
        have spotters on the ground.”

        Further, King said Americans will have to be embedded with the Iraqi
        army to coordinate movements with the Kurds and provide leadership.

        But Obama is “trying to pass it off,” King said.

        “If Isis is a threat to the United States security, then we can’t say
        it’s up to Iraq to defend the United States … cutting off your nose to
        spite your face or if Iraq doesn’t do the job.”

        The United States will be the ones attacked, as “we should only be in
        there if it affects the U.S.,” said King. “If it doesn’t affect the
        U.S., we have to be willing to do whatever it is we have to do.”

        Obama also “dropped the ball” when it came to Syria, King said Monday.
        Two years ago, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA
        director Gen. David Petraeus, and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
        urged the United States to train and arm the Free Syrian Army, he
        pointed out.

        Obama “was saying people just wanted us to throw guns and weapons towards them,” but that was a false claim, said King.

        “Are you really saying that Hillary Clinton and Panetta are willing to
        just give guns to anyone?, said King. “The fact is, the president
        dropped the ball. He dropped it in Syria, he dropped it with Isis. Now
        he’s trying to blame everyone but himself.”

        Meanwhile, King said that if House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio,
        reconvenes the House to vote on airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq and
        Syria, he would “definitely vote to authorize the strikes” himself.

        However, he does not believe Congress should get “bogged down in a long debate and undermine what the president’s trying to do.”

        Unless Obama believes there would be a solid majority of votes and he
        and Boehner can work a vote out, King thinks “it would be
        counterproductive to come back at this stage.”

        “You may have some guys trying to cover themselves in the election, and
        that could send a wrong signal to the world,” King continued.

        My post was about Obama blaming others and not taking responsibility for anything. This article points out he has known about ISIL for anywhere from 7 months to over a year, or as he calls them the “JV”.
        This is just another example of Obama trying to lie his way out of his failures.

        • Dominick Vila

          Wow, Peter King blamed President Obama? I can’t believe it!

          The enclosed link may refresh your memory on the debate that was ongoing, as far back as the last presidential campaign, regarding the fact that Syrian rebel groups had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
          The threat posed by rebel groups with ties to terrorist organizations was reiterated by members of the Obama administration (the directors of Homeland Security and the CIA) as recently as January and February of this year. Robust debate took place including both hawks who felt we should get involved or, at least, help rebel groups with no ties to terrorism, and those who opposed intervention in the Syrian civil war and who pointed out that it was virtually impossible to differentiate between groups with ties to Al Qaeda or ISIL and pro-Western groups.
          What was not clear, until a few months ago, was the extent of the threat posed by ISIL, insofar as its infrastructure, capabilities the scope of their goals, and the brutality of its members.
          Monday morning quarterbacking is easy, the tough part is to predict or anticipate things like this, and sell intervention to a public weary of war.

          • itsfun

            First war is a terrible terrible thing. We should be war weary. It does no good for our “leaders” to lie to us and blame others for the problems we have with ISIL. ISIL has promised to kill us Americans, we have to kill them or be killed. That is a terrible thing to have to say, but it is, what it is. How their hate for us began is not the problem now. They are organizing and getting stronger every day. We must have leaders that will meet this head on and do whatever is necessary to eliminate them, not leaders that just say things like they are “JV”.

          • Dominick Vila

            Long term solutions are only possible when we understand the root cause of a problem and the scope of the threat. Ignoring what caused the latest problem in the first place, and repeating the same mistakes, only guarantee perpetual warfare, which I suspect is the reason for the hawkish approach we take whenever we encounter an international problem.

            President Obama is not ignoring the threat. The rationale and need to get involved in Syria has been discussed extensively since the Syrian civil war began, as well as the possibility of helping some rebel groups and finding ways to minimize the carnage that has taken place in that country since their problems began.

            Leaders from both parties, including President Obama and prominent Republicans such as Sens. McCain and Lindsay, considered various options and decided that the best course of action was not to intervene physically in that conflict and let the Syrians solve their internal problems. Our help, until recent events forced us to intervene, was limited to humanitarian aid and very limited assistance to rebel groups known to be pro-Western.

            The beheading of two Americans and a British citizen changed everything and brought the latest threat to our interests in the region to the forefront of our foreign policy agenda.

            No evidence has been found suggesting a direct threat to the USA. The threat is against Americans living overseas, especially in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region, and against our global interests in that part of the world.

            Invasions are not a sign of leadership. With the exception of self defense, as was the case when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, unwarranted invasions in parts of the world where our values, our culture, and our very presence is offensive to the indigenous population is almost inevitably counter productive.

            With that in mind, and considering the anti-war sentiment expressed repeatedly by a plurality of Americans, the only recourse was limited intervention in the form of bombing ISIL targets. I doubt that strategy will solve the problem. It is bound to weaken ISIL, it will buy us time to train our surrogates in Iraq, it may help us retrain soldiers who have proven to be more inclined to run than fight. I fear that it may not be long before President Obama orders the deployment of ground troops in Iraq. The problem with that strategy is that while it will succeed in defeating ISIL, it will do nothing to eliminate the anti-American feelings that allow organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIL to be so successful. Short of a permanent presence, which George W. Bush suggested during one of his famous speeches in 2007, Iraq will disintegrate as soon as we leave. Dividing the country into three autonomous or independent countries will solve absolutely nothing. The goal of radical Islamic zealots is absolute dominance and the preservation of their religious and cultural values in every corner of the Muslim world.
            President Obama did not lie to us and is not blaming everyone else. He acknowledged the obvious, our intelligence community, his administration, and himself failed to identify the depth and scope of the ISIL threat to our interests and to Americans living in Muslim countries. Compare that to giving the homeland of the 9/11 mastermind, financiers, and the terrorists that attacked us Most Favored Nation status, and fabricate excuses to invade a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. Compare that to blaming a Lt. Col. for the Iran-Contra scandal. Compare what is being done now to what we did after 272 U.S. Marines were slaughtered at the Beirut airport, and Reagan’s decision to cut and run because “that was not our war”. I understand the need to establish parallels to survive politically, but I am afraid that if this is the best the GOP can do to compare what is happening today to what happened in the not too distant past, very few people capable of rational thinking will take the bait.

          • itsfun

            It came out today that Obama only attends 41% of the daily briefings. ISIL captured 2 large cities in Feb. Obama knew this, so that destroys his “JV” excuse. Sounds like someone with a machete will have to come to your front door before you will believe ISIL is a threat to us.

          • Dominick Vila

            With the possible exception of some crazy domestic”convert”, I am as scared of an ISIL invasion of the USA, as I was of a Nicaraguan contra invasion.
            Their threat, insofar as we are concerned, is limited to American living in that part of the world and to our interests. Honest, I don’t think their camels can swim across the Med and the Atlantic. Get some rest, the boogeyman ain’t coming.

          • itsfun

            It gets reported every day in the news about ISIL members already being in the US. It only takes a small amount of some chemicals to completely ruin a water supply or poison a bunch of school kids,etc. The “boogeyman” may be here already.

          • Dominick Vila

            Yes, the same goes for alleged Al Qaeda cells in the USA since 9/11, and the same is true for American citizens who should have been put in nut houses a long time ago.
            The possibility of somebody showing up at our front door wielding a machete has always been there, and will continue to be, but that is not the same thing as an invasion of the USA or a massive attack on U.S. soil. Short of doing what we did to the Japanese after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, it is hard to imagine what could be done to deal with potential domestic threats without infringing on the rights of American citizens.
            Is this what you are afraid of? If yes, have you been afraid your whole life?

          • itsfun

            We would deal with them the same as we did with Japan. The better solution is to deal with them on their land and not on ours. The only thing I am afraid of us it more of Obama’s lies.

          • Dominick Vila

            Would you mind expanding a bit more on the lies?
            Yes, it is better for us to engage them in their homeland than make ours the battlefield. That is why we are targeting ISIL and Al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.

          • itsfun

            how about if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor or if you like your health care insurance plan you can keep your plan, or I just leaned of the IRS targeting conservative groups by watching the TV news. How about not knowing about ISIS being a threat. Even Barney Frank recently said Obama should not have lied to the people.

          • Dominick Vila

            The overwhelming majority of Americans continue to go to the same doctors they did before the ACA became law, and their insurance plans have not been changed. The fact that President Obama did not know that less than 1% of people with private insurance had substandard coverage that did not meet minimum ACA standards could be considered a sign of ignorance, but it was not a lie.
            Presidents are seldom aware of all the ins and outs of government functions. What happened at the IRS before the GOP transformed their criminal activities into an attack against innocent Tea Party organizations did not become public until it hit the airwaves.
            As for the extent and scope of the ISIL threat, if the GOP knew what it was, perhaps they should let everyone else know when they learned that, how did they find out, and what they did with the information. Members of the Obama administration acknowledged the threat, which at the time involved rebel groups in Syria, suspected to be alienated to Al Qaeda, fighting Assad. Nobody knew they planned to establish a Caliphate that extended all the way to the Levant or the extent of their infrastructure, capabilities and the popular support they enjoy.

          • Sand_Cat

            WOW, are those REALLY BIG LIES! Nothing like those trivial ones that got us into a war costing trillions and killing hundreds of thousands that resulted in ISIS and a lot of the other chaos and instability in the region.

          • Sand_Cat

            And that’s why it happens every day, right?
            Why should they bother poisoning our water? Our corporate “citizens” have been doing it for years with the support of morons like you.
            I love how the “liberal press” is so evil and unreliable when they report facts you don’t like, but it’s gospel truth when they spread the kind of fear and sensationalism that benefits your party.

          • Sand_Cat

            It came out of what: your ass?

          • Sand_Cat

            But worse than war in the long run is delusional morons who keep repeating the same lies and stupidity and voting that way.

          • Sand_Cat

            How their hate for us began is ALWAYS a problem. How the hell do you think we got into this mess in the first place? Oh, I forgot. It was all Obama’s fault, like when he convinced your buddy to invade the place, right?

        • Sand_Cat

          And Peter – like you – is such a paragon of integrity. We’re all bound to be convinced now that you quoted him.

    • Sand_Cat

      I see you’ve come out from under whatever rock you were hiding to repeat your same old story of blame and lies. And we all know how well your buddy W listened to warnings he got, right?
      I don’t know about Obama, but you obviously know nothing about the “scandals” you keep repeating liking a broken record.

      • itsfun

        I know the scandals are not going away just because you want to deny them. Your hero just keeps blaming anyone he happens to feel like, while not taking any responsibility for his rotten administration. I wonder if he will throw Holder under the bus now?

        • Sand_Cat

          When are you idiots going to realize I do not select my “heroes” from among the political class.
          If you hadn’t lied non-stop from day one of Obama’s presidency, someone might actually give serious consideration, or at least respectful disagreement. As it is, Benghazi is complete BS, and NONE of the organizations needed to apply to IRS, and none of them were eligible under the law. The scandal is that any of the political organizations – liberal or conservative – were approved. All of the conservative ultimately were, several of the liberal weren’t. Obviously, nothing will satisfy you, but anyone rational would say you got a good result
          The rest of your claims are lies and BS

          • itsfun

            What about the State Department staff destroying documents on Benghazi? You just refuse to believe the truth and so you try to bully people into agreeing with you or just stop posting. Your bullying will NOT work with me. Being a bully must be the only way you can feel important. You are nothing more than the south bound end of a north bound horse. The only thing you are good for is lying.

          • Sand_Cat

            Maybe better a bully than a delusional liar. Or rather, the “bullying” is directed only at delusional liars who continue to post falsehoods and deal in bad faith.
            Maybe you should have a look at your heroes.
            Believe me, I am under no illusions that people like you will ever agree with me, or with reality.
            As for lying, thanks, pot. Keep projecting your failings on me and on the administration.

  • howa4x

    Considering that the Iraqi army out numbered ISIS by 50 to one and was better equipped why wouldn’t anyone assume that it would collapse so quickly. As for Syria that is a murky swamp. Arm who? If Obama was smart he would leave that place and allow ISIS to fight it out with Assad and Hezbollah. In the best case all 3 groups would be seriously weakened by the civil war, giving Israel a break. Iraq should be divided along sectarian lines just as Joe Biden said 2 yrs ago. this way Iran would support the Shia and the Gulf states support the Sunni. We have been natural long term allies with the Kurds and should support a Kurdish state across Iraq and Syria
    We can’t stop the 2 warring factions of Islam and this fight is centuries old. Once we become energy independent which will happen soon we can tell all the petro dictators to go get f……d

  • Dominick Vila

    What the United States under estimated was the intense hatred that the Sunnis who had to flee Iraq to save their lives have towards us and towards the Shias that replaced them. Syria may have served as a convenient platform to unite the Jihaddists, and buy time to develop a socio-political platform and a plan to attain their goals, but beyond that Syria played no role in what is going on. The part that we continue to ignore is the popular support that organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda enjoy throughout the Islamic world, and the fact that the more we pound them, the more popular they become among those who see the United States, and Western countries and cultures, as evil enemies.
    The problems we have, which people like Boehner don’t seem to understand, is that the only way to keep our puppets in power and avoid admitting that the sacrifices made by our troops were in vain, involve a permanent presence in Iraq and, possibly, in Syria. Otherwise, bombing and another invasion will only serve as catalysts for more anti-American feelings, and a waste of money and time.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    Let’s simplify the issue: You work with a person you cannot stand, they hunt animals for sport, they smoke cigarettes, do not practice a faith, they’re female and don’t like men. How do you deal with the situation? How is this anywhere near similar you ask? Well, if you read comments at a variety of websites, you should have noticed by now, that there are those who believe others who practice some of the above interests, Do Not deserve to be alive. This practice has been going on since the beginning of time and shall until we learn to live and let live; but how can we, within an ever shrinking controlling global environment? Is government action, whether one nation or multi-nation truly any different from mob-action? How many of us I wonder actually agree with everything that our government does under any given administration?

  • Scott Smith

    Obama is seriously delusional.