Posts Tagged ‘ISIS’

Global Threats, Friends in the Neighborhood

December 10, 2015

Antonio O. Garza (Ambassador to Mexico, 2002-2009)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Garza’s December 2015 newsletter.


This time of the year should be filled with joy and peace, but it is hard to see much of either reflected in the recent headlines. The barbaric terrorist attack in California this past week, as well as the earlier attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Mali have sent shock waves across the world, shattering thousands of lives and once again corroding our sense of security. They’ve also re-sparked debates on how to keep ourselves safer and best confront violent extremism. We all know that there won’t be any easy solutions. It will be a long road toward peace and security, and one that will demand U.S. leadership and global solidarity in the face of such senseless brutality.

The world’s attention is now focused on ISIS, Syria, and the conflict’s global spillovers, but that doesn’t mean that we can neglect our other foreign policy relationships. For example, our regional partners don’t often make it onto the crisis list and so subsequently onto our short-term policy agenda. This is a mistake. These countries arguably affect the United States’ economy and security more on a daily basis than any other region. In the first nine months of 2015, we traded over a trillion dollars in goods with Canada and Latin America—that’s over $2.6 million dollars a minute. We also work on a daily basis with our regional partners to keep contraband and criminals far from our borders.



U.S. Policy Advisors on the Middle East Region

September 30, 2015

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s September 28, 2015 blog post.


The world is wondering why the United States has moved so slowly to wipe out radical Islamist groups, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that are destabilizing much of the Middle East and parts of Africa. Battle-hardened rebels have been waiting for military assistance from the U.S. to attack the ISIS strongholds in Syria. The recent resignation of General John Allen leaves a major void in the U.S. military strategy to support the rebel groups. Reportedly, Allen did not receive the necessary authority for action against the radical Islamists, which has allowed their rapid expansion to continue throughout the region.

In Afghanistan the Taliban has affiliated with ISIS, despite the 10,000 U.S. peacekeeping forces there. The new president, Ashraf Ghani also has not been able to bring peace, as terrorist attacks continue daily.


Ambassador Smith on US-Saudi Relations, ISIS, and the Iran Nuclear Deal

September 28, 2015



The guest for this interview is CAA member Ambassador James Smith. Ambassador Smith was U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2013 and now is the President of C&M International, an international policy consulting firm. He is a former U.S. Air Force brigadier general and F-15 fighter pilot who served in Operation Desert Storm. Ambassador Smith is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Naval War College, and the National War College, where he served as a professor of national security strategy.


Turkey and the West — Getting Results From Crisis

August 11, 2015

Stuart E. Eizenstat (Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, 1999-2001; Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, 1997-1999; Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, 1996-1997; Ambassador to the European Union, 1993-1996)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Eizenstat’s August 7, 2015 special to Foreign Policy. The article was co-authored by Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan.


The Turkish government’s dramatic decision to engage militarily in Syria against the Islamic State, its agreement to allow the United States to use its air base in Incirlik to strike Islamic State targets, and its request for consultations with NATO last week no doubt can be helpful to the West. Turkey’s change of heart came after an attack, attributed to the Islamic State, near the Syrian border on July 20 which killed over 30 Turkish citizens and wounded scores more. In the days that followed, the Turkish government implored NATO to help it combat the terrorist threats it faces from both the Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, the latter sworn enemies of Ankara. These security developments should also be a wake-up call for the European Union, the United States, and Turkey to comprehensively reinvigorate a relationship that has fallen into disrepair.

Ankara’s dramatic military actions have created an opening which the European Union and United States should seize to help Turkey regain the political, economic, and security footing lost because of its own shortsighted actions. In recent years, the Turkish government has too often chosen to repress rather than address the views and frustrations of its people. The economy continues to deteriorate as a result of poor economic and political policies. In no small measure, these bad policy choices are what cost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, its 13-year majority in the June parliamentary elections.


A Field Guide to Jordan’s Struggle Against ISIS

February 6, 2015

Marc Ginsberg (Ambassador to Morocco, 1994-1998)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Ginsberg’s February 5, 2015 special to the Huffington Post.


There are few nations in the Middle East, perhaps aside from Morocco (a bit of prejudice here), that is as blessed with such decent people and respected leadership as Jordan. It is a vulnerable, but stable desert kingdom constantly defying the forces arrayed against it. Jordan’s boundless generosity has provided a safe haven for the human tide of refugees that have been thrust upon it from war ravaged Syria and Iraq. A nation poor in natural resources – Jordan nevertheless is an oasis of dependability in a Levantine desert seeming devoid of anything but.

King Hussein of Jordan – one of the truly great leaders of the modern Arab world and father of the current monarch, King Abdullah, described his nation this way:


Ryan Crocker on Iraq’s Role in the Long War Against ISIL

October 3, 2014

Ryan Crocker, Ambassador to Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007-2009), Pakistan (2004-2007), Syria (1998-2001), Kuwait (1994-1997) and Lebanon (1990-1993)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Crocker’s September 28, 2014 interview in Defense One.


Ryan C. Crocker, a veteran of U.S. Middle East diplomacy, welcomes the start of United States-led air strikes against ISIS forces in Syria but stresses Washington must remain committed to a long-term campaign against the group. “This is not going to be a campaign of weeks or months,” he says. “It’s going to be one of years. And we need to make it clear to allies, to adversaries, and to our own people that we’re going to be in it with whatever it takes.” Despite the expansion of action to Syria, Crocker recommends that U.S. operations focus on Iraq, which is more familiar ground and where political and military reforms underway—following the collapse of the Iraqi army—have the potential to create a solid ally against ISIS.

Gathering from what you’ve written, you must be very pleased by the early Tuesday attacks on Raqqa, which is the headquarters of the Islamic State in Syria, and also against the Khorasan Group, an al-Qaeda affiliate in eastern Syria, outside of Aleppo.

It’s a good start. I am pleased that we made that start with a fairly extensive air campaign that also involved five other Arab states—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates—flying and fighting with us.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. And the impression we made in Syria is a whole lot greater than the two 500-pound bombs we dropped in Iraq when we started that campaign.

Should the United States keep this going for a while? What’s your feeling?

President Obama set the goal fairly clearly, and it’s the right one: to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State. We’ve begun the process of degradation. We need to see what the effect of Tuesday’s bombings was.

But again, as the president said, this is not going to be a campaign of weeks or months. It’s going to be one of years. And we need to make it clear to allies, to adversaries, and to our own people that we’re going to be in it with whatever it takes, however long it takes.


It’s time for Muslim Nations to take the Lead

October 2, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s October 2, 2014 blog post.


On Tuesday September 30, 2014 I appeared on a segment of Bloomberg TV’s Bottom Line with Mark Crumpton, focusing on the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates. Mark asked what the U.S. should have known when our troops left Iraq 2011. I noted that it opened the door to al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. but did not elaborate on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which has undertaken numerous attacks against the Iraqi military and civilians.

In 2003 after the U.S.-led incursion into Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi founded a small militia group that subsequently morphed into the larger Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). Al-Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca, a U.S.-Iraqi detention center from 2005 to 2009, and released since he was not considered an enemy combatant. Al-Baghdadi resumed leadership of ISI in 2010, undertaking numerous attacks including a mosque in Baghdad, and killing a Sunni lawmaker. After Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 he retaliated with an attack south of Baghdad in which twenty-four policemen were killed. In 2012 he orchestrated a series of suicide attacks, car bombings and roadside bombings killing and wounding hundreds of people throughout Iraq.


Ambassador Gabriel on Countering ISIL

September 29, 2014

Edward M. Gabriel (Ambassador to Morocco, 1997-2001)


One year ago this month, I wrote in these pages about the need for US leadership and bold American action in Syria. This appears even more important now in order to stop groups that seek to harm American interests and citizens. Perhaps it took the barbaric acts of ISIL to change the minds of the President and the American public, but this has now created an opportunity for the President to recalibrate US policy options regarding Syria as well as radical extremists in the region.

As I noted then, America already has experienced a significant deterioration in our strategic interests in this conflict. “If Iran, Syria and Hezbollah further tip the balance in their favor, this will result in a strengthened axis of resistance against US interests, stretching from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This will represent an unstable, long term situation for the US, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and our allies in the Gulf.”

I wrote then that a key task for the President is to convince the Qataris and Saudis– who are supplying arms and money to unvetted groups– as well as a broad coalition of partners to get behind this common mission, and to stop supplying arms and money to radical rebel factions.

This is now the US strategy that President Obama enunciated this month, and one that American policy makers and the public should strongly support. Only American leadership can both organize and sustain a strong coalition, including moderate rebel groups and countries, to put boots on the ground and provide the arms and resources to create the anvil necessary, between allied forces on the ground and US and allied strikes from the sky.


U.S. at War: Airstrikes have begun in Syria

September 25, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005) Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s September 25, 2014 blog post.


Fighting between tribal and religious factions is not new. Rulers and dictators have come and gone through history. In the 12th century Sultan Saladin’s Muslim forces defeated the Crusaders, and created a caliphate in the Middle East and North Africa. The mantle was passed on to the Ottoman Empire rulers who controlled much of the Middle East and Eastern Europe until 1915. Islamists today want to establish another caliphate in the same region. In the early 1700’s the Muslim preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab formed a political pact with Muhammad bin Saud to engage in armed jihad against the other tribes in the region. The al-Saud dynasty by 1932 had become the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, controlling a vast region in the Middle East. The Wahhabi sect has since spread throughout the Middle East, Africa and Southern Asia, and adopted armed jihad as part of the Islamic doctrine. (more…)

Operation Lifeline Syria

July 25, 2014

Madeleine Albright (Ambassador to the United Nations, 1993-1997)

Cross-posted from Secretary Albright’s July 23, 2014 post to Foreign Policy.  The article was coauthored by David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee.


The Middle East suffers a new trauma every week. Iraq is disintegrating, as the Syrian conflict crashes across its borders. Gaza is in flames, as long-term neglect takes its toll. No wonder it seems difficult for policymakers, never mind the public, to get their priorities straight.

One consequence is that the humanitarian crisis in Syria threatens to become a sideshow — not because things are getting better, but because complexity has become an excuse for inaction. Suffering on an appalling scale is now the new normal: In the last few days, upwards of 700 people have been killed in Syria, a fact that has gone unremarked in most news outlets.

For three years, humanitarian action and political progress have been put in separate boxes. On both counts the international community is failing. U.N. appeals are not funded, and U.N.-sponsored peace talks are going nowhere. Aid convoys are blocked, and U.N. resolutions are ignored.

Yet two recent developments — one humanitarian, one political — have provided a potential for a breakthrough.