ISIS advances as Obama dithers

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Since Thursday, Islamic State rebels, backed by tanks and other heavy armor, have seized control of more than 60 villages near the regional capital of Ayn al-Arab, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group. The extremist insurgents, also known as ISIS or ISIL have also forced the evacuation of about 100 other villages, Kurdish field commanders and Turkish officials said. . . .

Kurdish militia in Syria, under the banner of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Defense Units, or YPG, said dozens of Kurds had been killed in fighting to defend Ayn al-Arab, called Kobani in Kurdish. They said the jihadists had advanced to within 9 kilometers of Kobani and appealed for international intervention to help their outgunned forces. . . .

Islamic State’s progress toward the Turkish border again showed the group’s military strength. It seized Kurdish territory in Syria even as French warplanes launched their first attacks Friday against the group’s positions hundreds of miles away in northeastern Iraq.

The move on Ayn al-Arab follows the seizure by Islamic State insurgents this past week of a strategic bridge over the Euphrates River. The capture enabled the rebels to march on the city from the west and rain down artillery shells on the city’s streets, said Khaled Issa, a representative of the Syrian Kurdish administration in Paris.

In the meantime, Team Obama seems focused on telling people (including ISIS) what the U.S. won’t do to counter these terrorists. The president continues to insist there will be no American “boots on the ground.” And now, Samantha Power has announced that the U.S. won’t conduct air strikes in Syria without the assistance of other nations.

Here’s a question: Why the hell not? President Obama claims he’s committed to “degrading and destroying” ISIS. Clearly, this requires air strikes in Syria, which is the only actual fighting Obama will the U.S. to engage in.

Air strikes are necessary if the Syrian rebels whom Obama expects to fight ISIS are to succeed even just in holding their own. To the extent Obama conditions American air strikes on the decisions of other nations, he demonstrates once again that he isn’t serious about “degrading and destroying” ISIS.

Rick Moran at PJ Media has another question: Is ISIS testing Obama’s new Syria policy? More likely, ISIS is acting on its conclusion that Obama’s new Syria policy has already failed its test.

In ISIS’s view, I believe, Obama’s Syria policy failed the test when his announcement of it wasn’t accompanied by air attacks in Syria. To hardened fighters, talk unaccompanied by action is just talk. A serious adversary would have acted in Syria first, then talked.

Moran points out that if the president sends planes into Syria to support the Kurds, a bipartisan group of lawmakers would be issuing a call for him to get congressional approval for the strikes. That’s true, but it’s no reason not to act.

Obama bombed ISIS in Iraq without congressional approval in response to the rout of the Kurds there. He should do the same in Syria under similar circumstances. Afterwards, he can sort out the question of authorization, either by seeking it or by deciding not to.

As Moran concludes, “the fallout from doing nothing won’t improve our credibility with the Kurds, or anyone else who might be thinking of signing on for the fight against ISIS.” And Obama’s credibility on this front sorely needs improvement.

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