Obama and the ISIL: A confusing issue


If you feel confused regarding Barack Obama’s vague and disturbing policies towards the crisis in Iraq and the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), rest assured you are not alone.

In Syria, Obama is taking the side of the ISIL militants in their war against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. But does he support them in Iraq too? Here is where you will likely become confused.

Obama said that the ISIL is a threat to Iraq in the short term, and that US citizens will suffer from this threat in the medium and long term. He ordered the urgent deployment of several hundred armed troops in and around Iraq, but that was only to protect the US embassy in Baghdad.

Without suggesting enough to contain the threat posed by the ISIL, Obama stated that Iraq needs more US and international help. He even suggested that Iran could play a role in maintaining security in Iraq. What he ruled out, however, was sending troops back to Iraq.

While Obama was doing all the talking, the ISIL continued to seize more land. It ravaged Iraq, imposing its control over Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, as well as Tikrit, and most of Iraq’s Sunni triangle, including Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons facility. So while we were listening to Obama’s speeches, the ISIL declared an Islamic caliphate in all the lands it has seized in Iraq and Syria. By the time Obama was receiving a round of applause for his speech, the ISIL released a terrifying map showing its plans for the next five years.

It is said that the White House is now reviewing its options in response to the ISIL. These options include air support to Baghdad. But is Obama really willing to strike this militant group? Not really.

According to the advice of his military aides, Obama has shut out congress, probably to avoid answering difficult questions. He turns a deaf ear to national security officials in his administration. This has, thus far, resulted in a string of foreign policy disasters, including the collapse of Iraq, the Syrian bloodbath, and may end in a phoney deal with Iran that will allow the mullahs to have their own nuclear state. Alarming as it is, US Foreign Secretary John Kerry has said that an Iranian nuclear deal is now possible.

Obama’s policies are said to be the real cause of the mess in Iraq. After all, the ISIL, now rampaging Iraq, is led by a man that Obama released from prison in a high-profile prisoner exchange deal.

Did Obama know that the ISIL was planning to invade Iraq? Did he support them? Did he arm and train this terrorist group in Syria and Iraq? Obama’s motivations must be questioned.

Salwa Habib is a senior columnist and an expert on Egyptian-American relations.