Kerry: No troops to rescue Falluja and Ramadi from al-Qaeda

posted at 8:41 am on January 6, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The US fought for years to free Anbar province from the grip of al-Qaeda during the Iraq War. Fallujah and Ramadi turned into pitched battlefronts, and later “the surge” convinced local Sunni tribes to join the US effort to dispel AQ from the region. More than two years after the US pulled all of its forces out of Iraq, AQ is back — and Ramadi and Fallujah appear to have fallen once again:

The city center of Iraq’s Fallujah has fallen completely into the hands of fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, police said Saturday, Jan. 4, yet another victory for the hardline group that has made waves across the region in recent days.

ISIL is also one of the strongest rebel units in Syria, where it has imposed a strict version of Islamic law in territories it holds and kidnapped and killed anyone it deems critical of its rule. Also on Saturday, it claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in Lebanon.

Hadi Razeij, head of the Anbar province police force, said police had left the city center entirely and had positioned themselves on the edge of town.

“The walls of the city are in the hands of the police force, but the people of Fallujah are the prisoners of ISIL,” he said, speaking on Arabic language satellite broadcaster al-Arabiya.

The US, which is still at war with al-Qaeda under the terms of the October 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), and who has allied with the government in Baghdad, wants to help “in any way possible,” Secretary of State John Kerry announced this weekend.  That is, any way that doesn’t involve fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq:

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday that the United States is ready to help Iraq in any way possible as that country began a major offensive to wrest control of two cities from al-Qaeda-linked militants. But he made it clear that no American troops would be sent in.

Kerry described the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, as “the most dangerous players” in the region. But as Iraqi forces launched airstrikes and clashed with the militants in western Anbar province on Sunday, Kerry said it was Iraq’s battle to fight. …

“This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis,” Kerry said toward the end of a visit to Jerusalem. “We are not, obviously, contemplating returning. We are not contemplating putting boots on the ground. This is their fight, but we’re going to help them in their fight.”

Kerry didn’t give details of what assistance the United States might provide but said it would do “everything that is possible.” After Maliki appealed in November for more U.S. support in fighting extremists, Washington sent 75 Hellfire missiles and promised to dispatch drones.

It’s worth pointing out that the same group has upended Barack Obama’s Syrian policy, too. Both could have been avoided had the US worked out an extension of the security agreement that kept American troops on the ground in Iraq to deal with al-Qaeda. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fully expected that to happen, and so did Leon Panetta. Even Nouri al-Maliki expected the Americans to stay, or return almost immediately after the withdrawal two years ago.

Instead, both Obama and Joe Biden twiddled their thumbs and ended up with no position at all in Iraq.  Not surprisingly, the vacuum left in western Iraq allowed al-Qaeda to regroup, and then attempt to destabilize both Iraq and Syria. Instead of stamping out the cancer, we let it metastasize again, this time more virulently than before.

That’s not to say that Kerry isn’t doing anything. He’s, er, inviting Iran to expand its influence in the region:

The Obama administration opened the door for the first time Sunday to Iranian participation at the Syrian peace talks in Switzerland later this month.

Softening the former hard line against any role for Iran if it refuses to endorse the Jan. 22 conference ground rules, Secretary of State John F. Kerry suggested that Iran might be able to participate from the sidelines.

“Could they contribute from the sidelines? Are there ways for them conceivably to weigh in?” Kerry said of the Iranians, who oppose the conference’s goal of establishing a transitional government in Syria, its ally and neighbor.

Kerry suggested that Iran’s diplomatic office in Geneva might be able to help as an unofficial participant.

Smart power.


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Japan and Germany.

MoreLiberty on January 6, 2014 at 11:35 AM

MJBrutus on January 6, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Japan and Germany don’t quite fit here though. Both Japan and Germany’s struggles were with external forces: Us. With Iraq, they’re fighting a common enemy(in some capacity), as well as fighting amongst themselves.

segasagez on January 6, 2014 at 1:09 PM

BTW: For all those worried about WMD’s in Iraq as justification for invading Iraq, why do we not invade Pakistan? Pakistan has nukes! They hand the information like candy to anyone who will pay the money. Pakistan also has close ties to numerous jihadist groups and probably knew full well where Osama was. Heck they invented Al-Qaeda in the first place.

They have been playing us for fools for years and seems like some want to continue to be played for fools.

William Eaton on January 6, 2014 at 1:15 PM

I just so wish that we finished Saddam off in the first gulf war. It would have save a lot of American treasure in lives and dollars.

KickandSwimMom on January 6, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Maybe, but, then again, maybe not.

We can’t know what would have been in store for Iraq if we had successfully eliminated Saddam after ousting the Iraqis from Kuwait. I highly doubt that Bush 41 and his administration would have had the appetite for trying to establish some form of democracy in Iraq after ridding of it Saddam. Another tyrant likely would have risen to replace Saddam and we can’t know if that tyrant would have had the same designs on Middle East dominance that Saddam had.

Bitter Clinger on January 6, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Also STOP comparing Japan and Germany to Iraq!

I don’t understand this either. Japan and Germany were civilized people with a massive industrial complex, common people, and had an educated population.

Iraq is none of that.

William Eaton on January 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM

segasagez on January 6, 2014 at 1:09 PM

I agree. In fact several of us have been making the same point, that is that tribes matter more than nationality to most of them in the region.

MJBrutus on January 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM

In an alternate universe where the left and the media (but I repeat myself) did not dedicate themselves to years of lying, partisan attacks on the military and Commander-in-Chief, shameless propagandizing on behalf of the enemy, exaggerating every alleged ‘crime’ committed by our soldiers and ignoring and refusing to report the barbarism of the enemy, the war in Iraq ended a decade ago, the US occupation in Iraq would have ended a decade from now, and a country like Japan or Germany in the Middle East would have resulted.

No, that’s not a pipe dream. The Germans and Japanese resisted rebuilding efforts after World War II, viciously. The post-war Japanese were not any more egalitarian or less fanatical than the average Iraqi. The difference between these conflicts lies with the American people, not with the enemy. There was no question of ending the occupation early in Japan. There was no timetable or withdrawal date. It was understood we would leave when the job was done, and not one minute before. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for any Japanese thinking of waiting us out and re-instituting the old order. That we left such a light for Al-Queda, that Democrats demanded it, that the American people allowed it and let themselves be persuaded by the criminally partisan media is a FAILING. And we will be sorry for it. We will regret it bitterly in years to come. It will come back to hurt us.

I served in Anbar province. I went to every major base in the region including Fallujah and Ramadi. I remember the Anbar Awakening and I remember the impact we had there on even the smallest level. Female Marines and soldiers used to pat their hair buns when they saw little Iraqi girls, to show them that we were American women in uniform, that we were equal to men and doing the same hard job. That ONE little thing–who knows what that would mean for those little girls? You want to talk about imposing American values, well there’s one. Try and tell me it’s a bad thing.

Iraq WAS a better place for us having been there, and it could’ve been a success. We won the freaking war and then we won the peace. We HAD it. And it was only the whining and whimpering, cowardly, opportunistic, disgusting and unpatriotic puling of liberals that stole it from us. I will never forget that and I will never forgive it. We have an entire party of Hanoi Janes who betrayed us for political advantage. To those people that argued, fought, lied, distorted to get us out of there before the job was done: those people dying in Iraq now are dying because of you. It is your fault. That blood is on YOUR hands. So is the blood of every coalition member that dies retaking ground we’ve already won. Every suicide bomb, every mutilated child cut open to make an IED that will then kill grieving parents–because oh yes, Al-Queda does that–is on your head.

We could have stopped it for good. We have an enemy every bit as evil, twisted, and barbaric as any Nazi, an enemy that will not stop, will NEVER stop, will die hating and trying to kill us no matter where we are, who we are, who we voted for, or whether we supported the war or opposed it. They will spit in your face if you say you protested the invasion and they will kill you as gruesomely as circumstances allow. THAT is what leftist opportunism visited on the Iraqis. Again. And if they hate us for it, they’re entitled. All of my brothers and sisters in uniform who died over there deserved better. And we’re going to end up sending them again, in greater numbers, to die badly taking the same ground thousands already died taking. It may be ten years from now or twenty, but it will happen.

Zoomie on January 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

The Media and Left effectively blocked Bush I from continuing onward to Baghdad and toppling Hussein, on the rationale that it would leave a power vacuum and result in a chaotic Iraq.
Shortly thereafter they excoriated Bush I for not finishing the job! This was similar to the Dems forcing Bush I to raise taxes then crucifying him for breaking his promise to not raise taxes.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Media and Dems were gung-ho about invading Iraq and toppling Hussein. When Bush II did just that, the Media and Dems realized the political benefit that yielded to Bush II and the Republicans. They then went 180 degrees and relentlessly hammered Bush II for achieving what they themselves supported. Their opposition was and remains purely political- neither the Media nor the Dems/Leftists gave or give a rat’s zzz about what is right, let alone what is good for the U.S. All that they care about power and continuing the march to Leftism.

Liberals and Democrat supporters are imbeciles who follow what the Media spoon feed them. Period.

Leftists, Democrats and liberals should be destroyed. Short of that, a new America should be formed somewhere and somehow, and enjoyed until it is once again infiltrated and destroyed by the filthy Left.

justltl on January 6, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Another tyrant likely would have risen to replace Saddam and we can’t know if that tyrant would have had the same designs on Middle East dominance that Saddam had.

Bitter Clinger on January 6, 2014 at 1:17 PM

To a degree that is true. We can never know for certain the next tyrant won’t be just as much of a sadistic thug as the last one.

However, most humans have some concept of boundaries. Saddam wasn’t just a vicious, sadistic thug. He was dangerously nuts. He was like a wild animal. Wild animals will obey when they think they must, but the instant they think they might be free to choose, they will eat your face.

So the reasonable bet was that if we wiped out Saddam and his immediate circle of like minded pack of wolves (especially his demon offspring), the next savage to take power would be an improvement.

fadetogray on January 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

So the reasonable bet was that if we wiped out Saddam and his immediate circle of like minded pack of wolves (especially his demon offspring), the next savage to take power would be an improvement.

fadetogray on January 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

True, but I don’t believe that the Bush 41 admimistration in 1991 would have had the stomach to do much more than “get Saddam and then get out”. Hard to say what that might have wrought.

Bitter Clinger on January 6, 2014 at 2:13 PM

In an alternate universe where the left and the media (but I repeat myself) did not dedicate themselves to years of lying, partisan attacks on the military and Commander-in-Chief, shameless propagandizing on behalf of the enemy, exaggerating every alleged ‘crime’ committed by our soldiers and ignoring and refusing to report the barbarism of the enemy, the war in Iraq ended a decade ago, the US occupation in Iraq would have ended a decade from now, and a country like Japan or Germany in the Middle East would have resulted….

Zoomie on January 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

I don’t disagree with your assessment of the left/media, but I don’t agree with your conclusion re Iraq.

Prior to Hitler, Germany was a western nation like France or England, had democracy, rule of law, some form of due process, a church/state separation, etc. We did not have to instill those values in Germans after WWII. We did not “nation build”. All we did in Germany and in Japan was rebuild there economies and stick around to make sure they did not re-arm.

We did not try to create new nations with new institutions from the ground up on people who were not inclined to accept those institutions in terms of making their nations function.

This idea that we “created” modern Germany or modern Japan is not true. We rebuilt them economically after WWII – that is a huge difference that people who believe we can do it again anywhere in the world are overlooking.

Monkeytoe on January 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Perhaps Murtha’s call to “redeploy” “over the horizon” might have been not so crazy after all.

But the liberal mind is such a weird bit of mush, it’s really difficult to tell what they really care about – other than getting their mitts on the levers of power.

/sarc

notta_dhimmi on January 6, 2014 at 2:31 PM

I think he was making fun of Kerry’s stupid double speak. Kerry said that the US would help “in any way possible” despite knowing that troops were not in the cards.

blink on January 6, 2014 at 1:44 PM

OK fine, Sorry Ed…

But I just can’t get over the obsession with Iraq as something that has strategic value. We have fracking now, we don’t need the Middle East anymore, and worse yet none of these folks were ever really our friends or allies.

Basically what is happening in Iraq is exactly what should have been expected. A long civil war between Sunni and the Shia. This will bring in all sorts of characters like Al-Qaeda, other Sunni Jihadist groups, the Saudis, etc. who will then face off against the Shia Jihadist groups, Iran, etc.

Now when two of our enemies are about the slam away at each other, why are we upset? In some ways if Kerry actually wants Iran to get more involved in Syria and Iraq that actually might be the smartest thing that idiot has ever wanted. That will insure a war between the Sunni and Shia goes super nova. I say good….excellent. Now if we can somehow encourage the Russians and Chinese to involve themselves this will be down right blissful from an American strategic point of view. I know it is cruel, and hard nosed, but having all my enemies whacking each other in the Islamic world, and at the same time cause energy prices to rise just when we Americans will start to export energy to the world…is a good thing for America.

William Eaton on January 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Iraq became very stable in 2008 once our brave troops crushed Al Qaeda terrorists there… Their sacrifice and heroism were only wasted when Obama the coward fool withdrew all the troops from Iraq and allowed Al Qaeda terrorists to come back stronger than ever…

mnjg on January 6, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Really? I sure do recall walking about Mosul, shopping at the local bazaars and otherwise having fun downtown. NOT.

At Christmas 08, a chaplain was killed by a rocket fired over the wall at the medical complex. This was about 1/2 mile away from the perimeter wall.

Around about the same time, a contractor was getting ready to climb into his pickup and drive away, when his cell rang. He paused to talk to his wife and about the time they finished the “luv ya/miss ya” spiel, he heard a crack. He looked up to see a bullet hole in the windshield and dead squae thru the driver seat back. Saved by the bell, literally.

Easter 09 was real stable in Mosul, when a VBIED went off at an Iraqi police compound located just outside the wall. Our CHUs were located only a few hundred meters away from the epicenter and we found vehicle parts here and there. The blast was so strong it tweaked my CHU, such that I could only open the window part way. Another CHU had daylight shining thru the seams.

Yep. Real stable those days.

AH_C on January 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

The Media and Left effectively blocked Bush I from continuing onward to Baghdad and toppling Hussein, on the rationale that it would leave a power vacuum and result in a chaotic Iraq.

justltl on January 6, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Actually, there was a much bigger factor that figured in that decision, namely that many of the Middle Eastern countries who signed on to Pappy Bush’s Coalition did so only on the condition that the Coalition liberate Kuwait-and nothing more. That was the only way they would sign on.

Del Dolemonte on January 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

This idea that we “created” modern Germany or modern Japan is not true. We rebuilt them economically after WWII – that is a huge difference that people who believe we can do it again anywhere in the world are overlooking.

Monkeytoe on January 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

The first step in Germany was “de-Nazification”-eliminating Nazi influence on the new West German state. The first step in Japan was the elimination of the Emperor worship and the militaristic vanguard that supported it. Emperor Hirohito was convinced to cooperate in this after a couple of A-bombs were lobbed into his backyard. The Bushies decided that Iraq required “de-Baathification” to eliminate any lingering Sadaam Hussein influence. This was a bone headed disaster. The Baath party in Iraq was not the equivalent of a totalatarian movement. Unfortunately the neo-con idealogues convinced Bush that their theories of creating new societies, “spreading freedom” and building a “new world order” trumped facts on the ground concerning an Islamic society.

vilebody on January 6, 2014 at 3:05 PM

I initially supported going into Iraq. If I recall correctly, the main arguments were WMDs, state-sponsored terrorism, and democratizing the middle-east. The first two persuaded me, and while the third seemed like a good idea at the time, I don’t know if anyone seriously believed that goal could ever be achieved.

Now? It seems like such a waste of the lives of American lives. And to have Obama be the one to see it all go down the drain…

Schadenfreude

Bmore on January 6, 2014 at 10:27 AM

No, not for this. I just feel angered and saddened.

Othniel on January 6, 2014 at 3:28 PM

And we’re going to end up sending them again, in greater numbers, to die badly taking the same ground thousands already died taking. It may be ten years from now or twenty, but it will happen.

Zoomie on January 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Concur. But if we do, we need to split all of the SWA region along ethnic lines. Don’t give a rat’s patootie about Turkey’s objection to Kurdistan, seeing what happened to Armenia.

AH_C on January 6, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Monkeytoe on January 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

And it wasn’t just those 2 nations. The Marshall Plan aided France, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Holland and most other Euro nations outside of the Warsaw Pact.

MJBrutus on January 6, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Today is Christmas for the Coptic Church is Egypt.

Why isn’t Kerry speaking up for them? Oh, I forgot…we don’t support Christians. Might anger our new allies in Iran.

CAIRO (AP) — Millions of Egyptian Christians thronged churches across this mainly Muslim nation for Christmas Mass, held Monday amid unusually tight security…

“We will pray under the night sky,” said Adel Shafiq, a Christian from the town of Dalga south of Cairo, who was attending Mass in a church looted and burned in August. “There is no roof and no windows. People are here wearing scarves and hats to fend off the night cold.”

kcewa on January 6, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Things appeared to start going wrong in Iraq when their new constitution had to recognize Islamic precepts, and we, as victors, unwisely allowed it.

At a practical level Islam means personal slavery, violence and bigotry on a societal scale.

We might just have to face the fact that Islam and western democracy are not compatible – that’s certainly the position of the enemy in this. You can’t democratize a people unless they want that freedom more than preserving their tribal traditions (of slavery, violence and bigotry).

That leaves our only reason for intervening in these hell-holes is to protect our interests and fight greater political evils (like Iranian hegemony in the Middle East). We don’t need higher-ground than this – it’s quite high enough, without all the moralizing.

virgo on January 7, 2014 at 12:30 AM

I smell a “I was against it before I was for it” moment.

RdLake on January 7, 2014 at 3:00 AM

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