Obama understimated the rise of the Islamic State

Obama understimated the rise of the Islamic State

The US had expected the Iraqi army to do more against extremists, president says in acknowledgement of intelligence shortcomings

President Obama acknowledged that the U.S underestimated the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, overestimating the ability of the Iraqi military to fend off the militant group in an interview on 60 Minutes.

The president was asked about comments from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has said the US not only underestimated ISIS but acknowledged that there were shortcomings evident in US intelligence.

“Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said, blaming the instability of the Syrian civil war for giving extremists space to thrive.

“Essentially what happened with ISIL was that you had al Qaeda in Iraq, which was a vicious group, but our Marines were able to quash with the help of Sunni tribes,” he explained. “They went back underground, but over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you had swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstruct themselves and take advantage of that chaos.”

The US has been launching air strikes at ISIS targets in Iraq for weeks, and the administration expanded that campaign to include targets in Syria this week. The president also sought and received congressional authorization to equip and train moderate Syrian rebel groups to take the fight to ISIS on the ground. But Obama reiterated that a lasting peace could only be secured with a political solution.

“What we also have to do is we have to come up with political solutions in Iraq and Syria, in particular, but in the Middle East generally that arrive in the combination between Sunni and Shia populations that right now are the biggest cause of conflict, not just in the Middle East, but in the world.”


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smurde01 33 posts

Sam Murden is one of the NRN's Cadets in 2014/15.

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