US not losing fight against IS, Ramadi capture a tactical setback: Obama

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May 23, 2015

Washington: President Barack Obama has played down the Islamic State capture of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's largest province, as a "tactical setback" and insisted the US-led coalition's campaign against the terror outfit is "not losing".

"No, I don't think we're losing."

May 23, 2015

Washington: President Barack Obama has played down the Islamic State capture of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's largest province, as a "tactical setback" and insisted the US-led coalition's campaign against the terror outfit is "not losing".

"No, I don't think we're losing."

"There's no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced," Obama said in an interview with news magazine The Atlantic published yesterday, days after the key Iraqi territory was stormed.

His comments also come just two days after the White House admitted the IS taking control of Anbar capital Ramadi was "indeed a setback" even as it vowed to help the Iraqi forces to reverse the outfit's gains.

Since August last year, a US-led coalition has conducted over 6,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to destroy IS.

Obama has not recalled US combat troops to Iraq, following a long brutal war after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. However, the defeat in Ramadi has forced the US to take a re-look at its strategy.

It has also put a question mark on the credibility of Iraq's government, with Obama blaming the rout on lack of training and reinforcement of Iraq's own security forces.

"…it is indicative that the training of Iraqi security forces, the fortifications, the command-and-control systems are not happening fast enough in Anbar, in the Sunni parts of the country," he said.

Obama said besides training, "commitment" needs to be ramped up in the Sunni areas that has been a "source of concern".

"…and we better get Sunni tribes more activated than they currently have been. So it is a source of concern. We're eight months into what we've always anticipated to be a multi-year campaign, and I think (Iraqi) Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi recognises many of these problems, but they're going to have to be addressed," he said.

The President said there has been significant progress in the north but "today the question is: How do we find effective partners to govern in those parts of Iraq that right now are ungovernable and effectively defeat ISIL, not just in Iraq but in Syria?"

"…one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them," Obama said.


Courtesy: PTI

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