Obama Refutes Claim That Syria Intervention Would Have Prevented Rise of ISIS
President Obama reportedly grew frustrated with a group of lawmakers criticizing him for his foreign policy in Syria, using expletives to defend and explain the actions of his administration. The group of bipartisan Congress members were discussing foreign policy issues with Pres. Obama during a private meeting. They allegedly accused the president's failure to intervene in the civil war currently under way in Syria as a factor responsible for the rise of insurgent groups — particular ISIS, or the Islamic State.
The argument echoes a similar one made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is prepping for an inevitable presidential run and likely wants to distance herself from what have been perceived as foreign policy mistakes carried out by the Obama Administration.
"The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled," said Clinton, in an interview with The Atlantic.
President Obama defended his position in Syria during the meeting with lawmakers, straightforwardly telling Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) that his accusations were "horseshit," as the Daily Beast reports.
A few days after the report, Corker published an op-ed in the Washington Post with the title "Obama is an unreliable ally." The article not only emphasizes the Senator's criticisms of Obama's policy in Syria, but questions his administration's role in conflicts with Russia, Ukraine, Libya and other countries.
The Obama administration has also received criticism from its own party. Rep. Elliot Engel, a Democrat and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who was also present at the meeting with Corker, claimed Syria's earliest rebels were not of violent jihadist nature like ISIS.
"The president still feels very strongly that we are deluding ourselves if we think American intervention in Syria early on by assisting these rebels would have made a difference. He still believes that. I disagree, respectfully. They were not looking for U.S. troops, they were looking for help and the Syria civil war started with the most noblest of causes," said Engel.
Engel added that ISIS "is definitely tied to Syria because when the uprising started against Bashar al Assad, it was a movement of people wanting freedom and democracy in Syria, it wasn't a war involving jihadism at all."
At this point it is impossible to tell whether supplying arms to non-jihadist rebel factions in Syria would have changed any outcomes in the country's ongoing civil war, but the Obama administration will be forced to make new decisions regarding the growing power of ISIS in the coming weeks.