Obama's Iraq strategy unraveling

incirlik fightersLast night, Obama announced his strategy for dealing with ISIS. One of the key points is stepping up airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria:

  • First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists.  Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.  Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.  That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.  This is a core principle of my presidency:  If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

This just got a lot harder:

The Turkish government says it will not allow a US-led military coalition to use its air bases in order to launch attacks on IS terrorists’ hideouts in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

A government official said Ankara can open the Incirlik Air Base in the south only for logistical and humanitarian operations, and not for any airstrikes.

“Turkey will not be involved in any armed operation but will entirely concentrate on humanitarian operations,” media outlets quoted the unnamed official as saying.

By putting Incirlik off-limits as a base for staging airstrikes — and, if the article is to be believed it will also be off limits to aerial refueling and command and control missions — any concerted air campaign against ISIS will either have to originate from carriers in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf  or bases in other NATO countries.


Turkey, a part of the “broad based” coalition Obama is touting is deeply complicit in the expansion of ISIS, it is profiting from ISIS, and nearly 50 Turkish citizens are held hostage by ISIS, so, perhaps their reticence in understandable. Turkey, however, has been joined by two additional coalition members in refusing to take part in airstrikes: Britain and Germany.

Obama on Wednesday authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria for the first time, along with expanded strikes in Iraq as part of “a steady, relentless effort” to root out the extremists.

“Britain will not be taking part in any airstrikes in Syria,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in Berlin. He said London won’t be “revisiting” the issue after Parliament decided last year against participating in airstrikes.

Germany has decided to arm Kurdish forces fighting extremists, putting aside its usual reluctance to send weapons into conflicts. Asked about participating in airstrikes, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “We have neither been asked to do that, nor will we do that.”

This is damning. It shows an abysmal lack of coordination between the administration and the alleged coalition members. It is asinine to announce increased airstrikes that your coalition will not only not support, but opposes to the extent that they disavow your strategy shortly after it is announced.

If it wasn’t clear last night, it is becoming more clear today that Obama’s strategy is nothing more than a rhetorical exercise that is designed to accomplish nothing.