Syria

Good news from Kobani

Featured image I’ve offered mostly criticism, and only very occasional praise, for President Obama’s campaign against ISIS. I just haven’t been able to see how the president’s campaign is likely to destroy or seriously degrade the Islamist barbarians. I’m happy to report, however, that the campaign may have prevented the fall of beleaguered Kobani, at least for now. Local officials say that ISIS has been forced to withdraw from several neighborhoods, due »

Turkey finally takes military action; unfortunately, it’s against the Kurds

Featured image President Obama’s ace diplomats have been working hard to bring Turkey into the alleged coalition with which he hopes to counter ISIS. Susan Rice claimed that the U.S. at least had secured permission to use Turkish bases to launch strikes against ISIS. That claim is false, according to Turkey (which should know). Now comes word that Turkey has taken military action. Unfortunately, it has done so not against ISIS, but »

Susan Rice’s Sunday trifecta of dissembling

Featured image Sir Henry Winton once defined a diplomat as “an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” Susan Rice, by contrast, has earned the reputation of a dishonest operative sent to lie on Sunday talk shows for the good of her president. She undertook that mission in the first instance when she appeared on the Sunday shows to claim that the Benghazi attacks were a spontaneous »

A problem with “boots on the ground”

Featured image It seems likely that air strikes alone aren’t going to accomplish President Obama’s alleged goal of degrading and destroying ISIS, and almost certain that an air campaign of the low intensity we’ve witnessed so far is inadequate. It also appears that the Iraqi Army and the rebels we support in Syria are not up to the task. Accordingly, if we truly want to degrade/destroy ISIS, or even set it back »

Syria airstrikes off to rocky start; no-fly zone needed

Featured image The Washington Post reports that U.S. airstrikes in Syria have “gotten off to a rocky start.” The primary beneficiary of the strikes, according to Post reporter Liz Sly, is the Assad regime. With ISIS under pressure from U.S. airstrikes, Sly says the regime has been able to focus its resources on the rebels that President Obama hopes, after a year of training, will be able successfully to fight ISIS. One »

Obama’s ISIS half-heartedness quantified

Featured image Several days ago, I noted the half-heartedness of President Obama’s air campaign against ISIS. I suggested that ISIS’s march towards Kobani presented a golden opportunity to degrade that outfit, inasmuch as it was traveling in large numbers through mostly open terrain. Instead, our air sorties appear to have been intermittent and limited. Max Boot quantifies the half-heartedness of Obama’s air campaign against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. He does »

As ISIS rolled towards Kobani, did Obama squander an opportunity to degrade it?

Featured image As John discusses in the post just below this one, ISIS is fighting its way into Kobani, a large Kurdish city on Syria’s border with Turkey. If ISIS takes Kobani, it will have achieved another major victory and created another humanitarian disaster. As John also notes, U.S. air strikes have failed to halt ISIS’s march on Kobani, and it may be that air strikes could not have done so. Ordinarily, »

By fighting ISIS are we aiding Iran?

Featured image Two of the most insightful commentators around — Cliff May and David Frum — worry that America’s fight (such as it is) against ISIS will assist Iran, our deadly enemy. How valid is this concern? There are two main ways in which Iran might benefit from our “war” against ISIS. First, the war might prompt the U.S. to make concessions to the mullahs in exchange for Iran’s help. The Iranians »

The Khorasan Group — it’s legit

Featured image Last night I wrote about the “Khorasan Group” — the name used to describe operatives sent by al Qaeda to Syria for the purpose of plotting attacks against the West. In discussing the unusual name attached to these operatives, I quoted two experts on terrorism who speculated in the Washington Post that the name was supplied by Washington. Based on this reporting, I concluded: Perhaps further investigation will reveal that »

What’s in the Khorasan name?

Featured image “The Khorasan Group.” It sounds like a consulting firm, or maybe an orgiastic cult. Actually, though, it’s the name applied to a terrorist outfit the Obama administration targeted for bombing in Syria earlier this week in attacks separate from those aimed at ISIS. But what kind of terrorist organization is the Khorasan Group and where does the name come from? According to the reports I’ve read, the Khorasan Group is »

Was Hillary Clinton against arming Syrian rebels before she was for it?

Featured image The official line from Hillary Clinton, as well as Leon Panetta, is that she was in favor of arming Syrian rebels, but that President Obama rejected her advice. This was one of the big “reveals” of her book and a theme during her book tour. But Bryan Preston shows that during a February 2012 interview with CBS, Clinton had no use for the idea of arming Syrian rebels. Her objections »

Scenes from a sideshow

Featured image Watching the Pentagon press conference displaying the results of the initial strikes on ISIS targets in Syria yesterday, I was struck by the apparent paucity of military targets and the limited nature of the strikes. Looking at the before/after images of a few of the strikes it was difficult to see the difference (not to say it didn’t exist). The Daily Mail rounds up a series of images from the »

Is Obama’s bombing campaign a sideshow?

Featured image President Obama should be commended for yesterday’s air attacks against ISIS. In addition, his decision to bomb the jidhadist Khorasan group, which is believed to be plotting attacks against the West, is praiseworthy. As to this affiliate of al Qaeda, Obama seems, for once, to be acting rather than reacting. Even so, I tend to agree with Max Boot who argues that the most consequential news from the Levant yesterday »

U.S. launches air strikes in Syria

Featured image The United States has expanded its war against ISIS into Syria by launching air attacks against an array of ISIS targets in that country. President Obama should be commended for ordering these attacks. The attacks don’t rise to the level of “shock and awe” but as described, they sound like a good start. Apparently, they involve a mix of fighter jets and bombers plus Tomahawk missiles delivered from ships. The »

ISIS advances as Obama dithers

Featured image 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. . »

The politics of the vote on arming and training syrian rebels

Featured image This week, the Senate voted 78-22 in favor of arming and training Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. Noah Rothman points out that four possible 2016 presidential contenders were among the “no” votes. They are Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Kristen Gillibrand and Republicans Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. A fifth potential contender, Marco Rubio voted “yes.” Rothman suggests that the contenders who voted against arming and training the rebels “calculat[e] that »

Obama weaves a Syrian fantasy

Featured image The New York Times homes in on a concern I expressed with President Obama’s plan to use “moderate” Syrian rebels as his foot soldiers in the campaign against ISIS in Syria — namely, that these rebels are at war with the Assad regime, not ISIS. Since pushing ISIS from parts of northern Syria early this year, Syria’s rebels have few military advances to point to and in many areas have »