Obama Administration Acknowledges War Against ISIS Is Not Working
CNN is reporting that President Barack Obama has requested his national security team devise a new blueprint to continue the fight.
“In October the U.S. stressed an ‘Iraq first’ strategy with efforts to degrade ISIS in Iraq as the priority and operations in Syria done to shape conditions in Iraq. Washington hoped that would give time for the U.S. to vet, train and arm a moderate Syrian rebels fighting force to combat ISIS, and ultimately the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“But with the Free Syrian Army struggling in a two-front battle against Assad’s forces and extremists from both ISIS and other extremist groups like al-Nusra, U.S. officials recognize the ‘Iraq first’ strategy is untenable,” writes CNN’s Elise Labott.
“Among the options being discussed are a no-fly zone on the border with Turkey and accelerating and expanding the Pentagon program to vet, train and arm the moderate opposition,” she adds.
One of the components of the administration’s broader strategy has been to attack ISIS by targeting its funding. However, Foreign Policy reports the Treasury Department has not actually gone after the banks in the region that have to be doing business with them.
“Over the summer, the United States continued blacklisting members of the group and its supporters, but not the financial institutions in territory under Islamic State control,” says Jamila Trindle.
Policymakers estimate ISIS has nearly $2 billion in assets, and reaps millions of dollars per week through a host of activities.
On Thursday, the Treasury Department’s anti-terrorism finance chief David Cohen appeared before the House Financial Services committee to testify about the department’s efforts undercut the Islamic State’s funding.
“Our efforts to combat its financing will take time,” said Cohen, according to The Hill. He added that they “have no silver bullet, no secret weapon to empty [ISIS’s] coffers overnight.”
House Financial Services chairman Jeb Hensarling said the unique nature of ISIS” funding requires an innovative approach.
“Fighting a financial war against terror will require constant innovation and improvement. The tools we’ve used in the past may not be suitable for the future,” Hensarling said.
Unlike terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab and Hezbollah, who rely on external financing for its terrorist activities, ISIS generates its funds through a combination of illegal oil sales, extortion, kidnapping and other ventures, the International Business Times reports.
More information on the hearing may be found here on the committee’s website.