President Barack Obama called blasted Congress for not approving a new terrorism sanctions czar after receiving a briefing on the ongoing fight against Islamic State at the Pentagon. He also outlined the US strategy for defeating the terrorist group.
Obama blasted Congress for not confirming Adam Szubin, his nomination for the position of terrorism sanctions czar at the Department of Treasury, saying that the empty post hinders the US strategy against IS, he terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“If Congress really wants to help in this effort, they can confirm Mr. Adam Szubin, our nominee for Treasury undersecretary, to lead this effort” against IS, Obama said. “This is a vital position to our counterterrorism efforts. Nobody suggests Mt. Szubin is not qualified ‒ he’s highly qualified. Unfortunately, his nomination has been languishing up on the Hill, and we need the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.”
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and others briefed the president on the attempts to drive IS out of Iraq and Syria.
“Our mission to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group ISIL… is a cause… that’s united countries across the globe ‒ some 60 nations, including Arab partners,” Obama told reporters after his briefing. “Our comprehensive strategy against ISIL is harnessing all elements of American power across our government: Military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic, development and ‒ perhaps most importantly ‒ the power of our values.”
In mid-June, the Department of Defense announced the expansion of the Taqaddum base in Iraq’s Anbar province. At the same time, Obama ordered 450 more troops to the base that is just 25 kilometers from Ramadi, the provincial capital, which fell into the hands of IS forces in May.
A week later, Carter admitted to Congress that the Pentagon has not been able to find enough “legitimate”Iraqi recruits to fight off IS extremists. At that point, the US military had trained some 9,000 Iraqi soldiers –far short of its 24,000-troop goal.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said that the briefing should lead Obama to conclude that the current strategy to defeat IS isn’t working.
“The President’s afternoon at the Pentagon should lead him to the same conclusion I have reached from similar briefings; his strategy to defeat ISIL isn’t working,” Thornberry said in a statement. “From Libya and Tunisia, to Afghanistan, ISIL continues to advance while we lose ground and time. I hope that the President will acknowledge these realities, end the veto threats on bills that would enhance his ability to take the fight to ISIL, and rethink his own inadequate strategy.”