A Small Victory Against ISIS
Robin Wright addresses the question of whether the Kurds capture of Kobani represents a defeat for ISIS, a turning point in the effort to push back the terrorists, or is simply a victory that means little in the grand scheme of things.
On Monday, the Kurds lifted a yellow flag atop Kobani’s highest hill to replace the Islamic State’s black-and-white banner, but Wright notes, the Islamic State still holds more than twenty thousand square miles in Syria and Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
“Despite two thousand airstrikes by American, European, and Arab warplanes since August 8th, the Islamic State has lost only one per cent of the land it seized in Iraq, and it continues to expand in Syria,” she writes in The New Yorker.
However, senior military officials tell Wright that their advance has been slowed and Stuart Jones, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, told Al Arabiya last week that more than six thousand militants, including many top commanders, have died in Iraq and Syria since launching their blitz last summer, which may be having a demoralizing impact on ISIS.
Words In The War On Terrorism Continue
For the second day in a row, the Obama administration struggled to explain the reasoning behind their refusal to characterize the Taliban as a terrorist group, preferring to identify it as an “armed insurgency.”
On Tuesday, the White House Deputy Press secretary was asked about the administration’s position on prisoner swaps given the apparent willingness of the Jordanians to trade a would-be terrorist bomber for one of their pilots whose plane crashed earlier in the week.
Spokesman Erik Schultz reiterated the policy that the U.S. does not exchange prisoners with terrorist groups, but a reporter noted that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was traded for five Taliban prisoners.
“The Taliban is an armed insurgency, ISIL is a terrorist group. We don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” Mr. Schultz said.
Asked directly if the White House considered the Taliban a terrorist group, he would not say they were.
The questioning continued today with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest facing inquiries from the press on the same question.
He too would not assign the label terrorist when describing the Taliban.
“They do carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism, they do pursue terror attacks in an effort to try to advance their agenda,” said Earnest, who admitted the U.S. Treasury has designated them as a terrorist group in order to impose financial sanctions against Taliban leaders.
“Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that has aspirations that extend beyond just the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he added.
Dylan Robertson of the Ottawa Citizen examines how the use of language – or refusal to use certain terms – has changed in Canada since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Der Spiegel seeks an explanation for the rise in the number of Islamic jihadists coming from Belgium.