The strategy correctly states that depriving Islamic State forces a safe haven in Iraq “requires professional and accountable Iraqi Security Forces that can overcome sectarian divides and protect all Iraqi citizens.” But it fails to account for much of what I saw in Iraq over the last week, including the fact that the U.S. is now providing air power for Iraqi forces that are being led in some cases by sectarian militia leaders.
In Iraq, nearly everyone with whom I spoke, from the Kurds to the Shiite commanders, said the U.S. reacted far too late to the jihadi menace and is still doing far too little. In the region, many U.S. partners appear to be getting cold feet. It was reported this week, for example, that the United Arab Emirates suspended its contribution to the war against the Islamic State in December.
The strategy also boasts of Obama’s plans “to train and equip a moderate Syrian opposition to provide a counterweight to the terrorists and the brutality of the Assad regime.” Recent reports tell a very different story. One U.S.-backed Syrian commander complained to the Wall Street Journal that his men were provided with only 16 bullets a month, whereas al-Qaeda and Islamic State fighters in Syria have received far better supplies.