Obama claimed that Al Qaeda had to be fought in Afghanistan, where it no longer was, instead of Iraq, where it actually was. Now Al Qaeda in Iraq is not only making a credible bid to take over Syria, but is also making a big comeback in Iraq.
A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago.
In Fallujah, where Marines fought the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war in 2004, the militants appeared to have the upper hand, underscoring the extent to which the Iraqi security forces have struggled to sustain the gains made by U.S. troops before they withdrew in December 2011.
The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, nearly 100 of them in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah, the site of America’s bloodiest confrontation since the Vietnam War.
Events Friday suggested the fight may have been in vain.
It was in vain because Obama threw away the gains Americans had made and turned a blind eye to the Shiite takeover of Iraq’s government. That left the Sunnis with few options and helped Al Qaeda make a major comeback.
At Friday prayers , held outdoors and attended by thousands of people, a masked ISIS fighter took the podium and addressed the crowd, declaring the establishment of an “Islamic emirate” in Fallujah and promising to help residents fight the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Iranian allies.
In the past year, al-Qaeda has bounced back, launching a vicious campaign of bombings that killed more than 8,000 people in 2013, according to the United Nations. Sectarian tensions between Iraq’s Sunnis and the Shiite-led government have been further inflamed by the war in Syria, where the majority Sunni population has been engaged in a nearly three-year-old struggle to dislodge President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Shiite Alawite minority.
These are also the wages of Obama’s disastrous Arab Spring which turned over major portions of the Middle East to Islamic terrorists.
Republican senators on Saturday blamed the Obama administration for Al Qaeda affiliates over-running parts of Iraq, including the city of Fallujah, which the United States secured before President Obama removed all U.S. forces from that country in 2011.
“While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” the senators said in a joint statement. “When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces … over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever.”