The results of the United States led-campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in 2016 do not correspond with the resources invested in it or with the expectations of the White House, assure experts on the subject.
Roberto García Hernández
Those military operations are subject to strong criticism, as more than two years after beginning they are far from achieving their main objective – that of damaging and finally destroying fundamentalist forces.
In August of 2014, Washington and its allies began bombing IS targets in Iraq. Such actions extended to Syria from September of the same year, against the will of the Government of Damascus.
To date, the North American command-led coalition has carried out more than 10,600 aerial attacks to destroy IS operations on Iraqi soil, while on Syrian territory the number of bombings has surpassed 6,000.
Sources from Central Command, a Pentagon body that directs operations in the Middle East, acknowledge that 54 civilians died in seven raids between March and October of this year, but non-governmental organizations assured that the real numbers are significantly higher.
Combat aircrafts from France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium and Holland act alongside those from the United States in bombings on Iraqi soil, while attacks on Syria involve Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain.
Since the end of October 2016, the NATO command has provided direct support in the form of so-called verification and quick response AWACS aircrafts, even though the Atlantic Alliance does not in fact form part of the coalition.
In spite of this rare effort, experts in the area of national security, as well as democrat and republican congressmen, are questioning the effectiveness of those military actions, which to date have cost North America more than 10 billion dollars.
Distortion and lies
In mid-September this year, numerous publications revealed that the United States military command was distorting the results of the conflict in the reports that it was sending to the White House and in those that it was passing on to media outlets.
According to The New York Times, the attempts of senior military leaders to alter intelligence data on the conflict, so as to provide a more optimistic vision to the executive and legislative branches of government, were alarming.
Democrat and republican congressmen protested their outrage and said that they felt deceived after receiving a distorted version on the supposed progress of the conflict, added the New York-based newspaper.
During the year, what experts called the excessive optimism of senior United States officials on supposed advances in the fight against IS was apparent on several occasions.
At the beginning of 2016, Head of United States Central Command (Centcom) General Loyd Austin confirmed that IS forces operating in Iraq and Syria were on the brink of collapse and said that the use of North American troops on the ground to defeat them would not be necessary.
In accordance with the officer, fundamentalists lost more than 20 per cent of the territory that they had occupied since 2014 – numbers that some experts assess as imprecise and excessively optimistic. Similar things are also occurring with reports on the Iraqi offensive against terrorists in the City of Mosul.
However, on 1 December the Department of Defense published a notice according to which Iraqi units are making significant progress in isolating the aforementioned city, which started on 17 October 2016, and could last several months, involving some 35,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops, as well as those from other local groups.
Training ‘moderate’ groups
Despite the continued support of the United States, Turkey and other nations in the Middle East, the campaign on Syrian territory did not have the results expected, as the Pentagon recently admitted the failure of plans to train members of armed anti-government groups that operate in the Arab nation – a programme with a budget of 500 million dollars for the fiscal year of 2016.
Last July, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter provoked serious concerns in Congress after confirming that they had barely been able to train 60 individuals, a number much lower than the anticipated 5,400, and in fact, the majority of those trained deserted, disappeared, died in combat or were captured.
Scrutiny from congress
In 2016, republican leaders and some democrat legislators in the legislative branches of government criticized Obama’s strategy against IS and, in particular, the project of Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq and Syria, mandated by the Capitol.
A report published by the White House on 5 December 2016 sanctioned that at the centre of Obama’s legal infrastructure for the use of military capabilities against terrorism, is the law passed in 2001 by Congress, which authorizes the Pentagon to use military force against Al-Qaida, the Afghan Taliban and associated forces, both inside and outside of Afghanistan.
With that assertion, the Obama administration therefore justifies any military action in the Asian country, as well as in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Libya, in accordance with the report, and leaves that door open for President-elect Donald Trump, who will assume his role on 20 January next year.
Although it remains to be seen what will be the real position of the new administration that will assume power on 20 January, with President Donald Trump at its head, the candidates for members of his cabinet might give an indicator of what will be the line to follow by the new leader of the White House. (PL)
Photos: Wikipedia – (Translated by Abaigh Wheatley – email: firstname.lastname@example.org)