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Fighting ISIS, Finding Iran

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Tablet

Fighting ISIS, Finding Iran

By Seth Frantzman

“They are the exporter of instability across the region,” US Secretary of Defense Mattis, his voice gruff and no-nonsense as usual, said in late July 2018. He was talking about Iran. On Syria, he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Keep your eye on the ball.” There were some nations, such as Russia and Iran, keeping Assad in power. “Our job is to try to find a way in the midst of this chaos to help the innocent people.” To do that the US wanted to “get stability in northeast Syria. This starts with destroying ISIS. They are not destroyed yet. It’s not over yet. It’s going to be a lot longer, tougher fight.” In the midst of the last days of the war on ISIS, global and regional powers were jockeying to see who would win the peace. Trump, Putin, Rouhani, Erdogan, MBS and Netanyahu were all watching closely.

Since February 2018, the US had begun to concentrate on “stabilization” in Syria. But it was doing that at the same time that it hunted down the remnants of ISIS. “We are almost complete with liberation of the physical caliphate,” Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, commander of special operations in Syria, said. He praised the Syrian Democratic Forces as “great partners who have done a phenomenal job liberating terrain.”

The challenge was that these partner forces, made up of Kurds and Arabs from various units, including the YPG, had a slog ahead to defeat the ISIS remnants. In the Euphrates Valley near Iraq, “once you liberate terrain it’s not over. ISIS and al Qaeda are experts at blending in to the population and remain in a cellular structure and commit activities that delegitimize governance.” So the US was training local security forces in the “near term,” to give the local government breathing space to stabilize the countryside."

Read more: https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/290736/fighting-isis-finding-iran