Count it as yet another Obama administration foreign policy failure. Having withdrawn from Iraq prematurely and having failed to negotiate an agreement for keeping some American troops in that country the Obama administration is responsible for the fall of Fallujah.
The Washington Post has the story:
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.
The capture of Fallujah came amid an explosion of violence across the western desert province of Anbar in which local tribes, Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants have been fighting one another for days in a confusingly chaotic three-way war.
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. troopsbefore 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.
The Post also reports that tribal forces throughout Anwar province have been fighting against the al Qaeda operatives. They have had some success in Ramadi, but, as they say, the situation is fluid. Or, should I say, very fluid. The Post does not know whether the tribal forces are allied with the Iraqi government.
Barack Obama vaulted to the American presidency as the anti-Iraq War candidate. He didn't explain that the quickest way to end a war is to surrender. How’s that Middle East peace working out now?
And, by the way, do you remember when Obama said that al Qaeda is on the run? Do you remember when the New York Times refused to believe that al Qaeda was in Iraq. During the Bush administration the Times was calling the group al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. For a news organization it was an instance of breathtaking dishonesty.
Well, al Qaeda in Iraq or Mesopotamia has recovered. The Washington Post reports:
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.
The Washington Post and the New York Times have both been reporting well about the fighting in Anwar province. But, neither paper expresses the level of outrage that it directed at Bush administration’s policy. Neither one is willing to hold President Obama responsible for the bloodshed and chaos that his ineptitude has unleashed on the Middle East.
Of course, Bush had American troops fighting in Iraq. Obama cut and ran. It is far easier to apportion responsibility for what a president has done than for what he failed to do.