Middle East News

Obama: U.S. Underestimated ISIS

President Barack Obama admitted that the United States underestimated the Islamic State’s rise to infamy in the Middle East, and heavily relied on the Iraqis’ capacity and strength to fight extremism.

In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired Sunday, Obama also conceded that the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State and an al-Qaeda linked terrorist cell–the Khorasan Group serves as an advantage to Syrian dictator, President Bashar al-Assad, who the UN has accused of crimes against humanity. However, he said, the U.S. has to eliminate Assad’s enemies first because they “could kill Americans,” the Associated Press reported.

The president acknowledged that his administration was surprised at how effective the Islamic State became  in governing. He said Syria’s lawlessness during the three-year civil war, including Iraq’s inability to fight extremism, became advantages to the Islamic State, paving way to the group’s steady rise and its establishment of a caliphate between the borders of the two countries.

“During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said.

Looking forward, Obama said that the fight against this kind of extremism is more of a “generational challenge” to Middle Eastern countries, and the conflict should be addressed through economic and political ways, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Rather than play whack-a-mole and send U.S. troops wherever this occurs, we have to build strong partnerships,” Obama said.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”–President Barack Obama”]

We’ve got to get Arab and Muslim leaders to say very clearly, ‘These folks do not represent us. They do not represent Islam.’


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