As Iraq unravels and the closer ISIS forces approach Baghdad, the White House is growing increasingly alarmed and frustrated. President Obama summoned his security advisers on June 19 to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. What he came up with became clear as he was taking questions from journalists gathered in the White House Press Room. “We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq.” Obama’s response was remarkably candid and direct, “Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.”
Tag Archives | Obama Administration
Now that the sixth BRICS Summit and the FIFA World Cup are over, the focus moves from Brazil and the emerging powers to the United States. The first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on 4-6 August 2014 finally offers an opportunity for Washington to focus on the African continent. This suggests things are slowly changing in U.S.-Africa relations. The most obvious change, beside this event, is the host of new Africa-focused initiatives launched by the U.S. in recent years, such as Power and Trade Africa, and President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
A major cause of current tensions in the East and South China seas are two documents that most Americans have either forgotten about or don’t know exist. But both are fueling a potential confrontation among the world’s three most powerful economies that is far more unstable and dangerous than most people assume. Consider what has happened over the past six months.
Speaking bluntly in the past three weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has unequivocally ruled out a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a speech at Tel Aviv University on June 29, Netanyahu announced that any peace agreement would include Israeli military control of the West Bank “for a very long time.” Netanyahu repeated himself on July 11, saying at a Hebrew language press conference, “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
Secretary of State John Kerry recently joined other foreign ministers of the P5+1 and Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister in Vienna, as the self-imposed deadline for a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program approaches. Sunday’s deadline will have huge ramifications for both Washington and Tehran. President Obama is already facing multiple crises in the Middle East: ISIS in Iraq, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and the recent clashes between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.
On 15 March 2011, a peaceful group of demonstrators in Damascus, Syria chose to take to the streets protesting a stalled economy, lack of jobs, infrastructure, the rising price of essential commodities that were severely affecting their standard of living, and a growing unemployment rate. Instead of responding proportionally, the army opened fire, killing and injuring several people. Soon, the movement rapidly spread across Syria, and streets were thronged by massive crowds clamoring for change, and in some cases, Assad’s removal.
As Iraq stands on the verge of a complete breakdown into mini sectarian states, former leading neoconservative and Iraq war advocate Richard Perle made a sudden appearance on Newsmax TV. His statements in the interview were yet another testament to the intellectual degeneration of a group that had once promised a ‘new Middle East,’ only to destabilize the region with violent consequences that continue to reverberate until this day.
The last few weeks have been brutal on President Obama’s reputation for foreign policy leadership. Consider the following. In a just-released Quinnipiac University poll, a plurality of voters rated Mr. Obama as the worst president since World War II. A majority of respondents also judged that the Obama administration is “not competent to run the government” and believe that “strong leadership qualities” are not among the president’s attributes.
If fireworks are the quintessential trademark of the way Americans celebrate 4th of July, the Israel Defense Force “celebrated” in their own special way: stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. Despite being the biggest U.S. ally in the region, Israel was not expected to exercise restraints when aggrieved Palestinian protesters pelted them with rocks giving rise to the chance of third intifada.
Republicans have agonized over the Party’s failure to capture the White House in 2012. A large emphasis of that campaign, and indeed much of the GOP’s efforts since 2010 to reclaim power in Washington, has focused on economic issues. Seeming to invoke James Carville famous adage, “it’s the economy, stupid,” Mitt Romney never failed to mention unemployment numbers and the rise of welfare recipients while campaigning in 2012.
Osama bin Laden’s death in May 2011 did little to diminish the threat posed by jihadist groups like al-Qaeda. “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it” was the ‘fatwa’ issued by bin Laden in 1998. Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri, the aging Egyptian Islamic theologian who leads al-Qaeda today, is having difficulty controlling the newly formed Islamist affiliates.
“So far as Syria is concerned, it is France and not Turkey that is the enemy.” – T. E. Lawrence, February 1915
It was a curious comment by the oddball, but unarguably brilliant, British agent and scholar, Thomas Edward Lawrence. The time was World War I, and England and France were locked in a death match with the Triple Alliance, of which Turkey was a prominent member. But it was none-the-less true, and no less now than then. In the Middle East, to paraphrase William Faulkner, history is not the past, it’s the present.
President Barack Obama has directed immigration resources towards the US border with Mexico. The president announced he will use his own powers to “fix as much of our broken immigration system as we can.” The move comes as Republicans told Mr. Obama a sweeping immigration bill passed by the Senate last year will not see a vote in the House this year.
Apparently ISIS is a business, a bloody and illegal business, sort of like the Mafia. That’s what I gleaned from a McClatchy report by Hannah Allam on the group’s finances, revealed at least by a trove of documents captured by the US, turned over to RAND a few months ago, whose conclusions leaked into the public sphere today. “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria sprang from a largely self-funded, corporation-style prototype whose resilience to counterterrorism operations was proven by the time Abu Bakr al Baghdadi assumed command in 2010,” Allam reports.
As enemy columns began a long, arduous advance to the capital, city after city and town after town fell. With a phased American pull out that left not a single combat troop in the country, US-equipped and trained local forces began to melt away, a combination of tactical defeats, surrenders, desertions and mutinies. The outlook of reengagement looked even bleaker: more involvement in the longest war to have ever been fought in American history was a politically unpopular and untenable position.