Obama will probably continue to insist that al Qaeda is on the ropes until they storm the White House and take him hostage, but in the real world, Islamic jihadists are stronger than ever, and control virtually a nation of their own stretching from eastern Syria to western Iraq. In response, the U.S. is denying that the ideology that motivates and drives these fighters is really what motivates and drives them, and refusing to study it. A sure recipe for success.
“ISIS: The al-Qaeda-linked Islamists powerful enough to capture a key Iraqi city,” by Liz Sly, Washington Post, June 10, 2014:
BEIRUT — Since U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, the al-Qaeda affiliate they spent years battling to vanquish has expanded its reach to the extent that it now controls what amounts to a state of its own across vast areas of Syria and Iraq.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) effectively governs a nation-size tract of territory that stretches from the eastern edge of the Syrian city of Aleppo to Fallujah in western Iraq – and now also includes the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The fall of Mosul to the extremists on Tuesday, after the apparent collapse of Iraqi security forces there, offers only the latest example of the extraordinary resurgence of the militant organization in the past 2½ years, aided to a large extent by the vacuum of authority in neighboring Syria.
The al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that confronted U.S. troops has since renamed itself to reflect its expanded activities in Syria, and it has fallen out with the al-Qaeda leadership. It has also become a far more lethal, effective and powerful force than it was when U.S. forces were present in Iraq.
“This is a force that is ideologically motivated, battle hardened and incredibly well equipped,” said Douglas Ollivant of the New America Foundation, who advised the Obama and George W. Bush administrations on Iraq, served two tours of duty in that country and has business interests there. “It also runs the equivalent of a state. It has all the trappings of a state, just not an internationally recognized one.”
ISIS owes its resurrection in no small part to the chaos in Syria, where large swaths of territory in areas bordering Iraq were falling out of government control just as U.S. troops were leaving, Ollivant said.
Most of ISIS’s expansion has come in the past year, however, after the group’s Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced its new mission in Syria and began recruiting across the northern and eastern parts of the country that were under rebel control. ISIS lured into its ranks the bulk of the thousands of foreign volunteers, some from Europe and the United States, who have streamed into Syria to wage jihad, further bolstering its numbers….