President Donald Trump’s national security team discarded the Obama administration’s anti-Islamic State plans in its first days in office, The Washington Post reports.
Former President Barack Obama and his team reportedly took so long to agree on a course of action, they were never able to implement their plans. Instead, Obama ordered his staff to leave behind detailed plans for the U.S. to arm Syrian Kurds, who would advance on Raqqa, ISIS’s capital city.
Obama’s team handed the plans to Trump’s team three days before taking office, who promptly threw them out.
“They provided the information, but we found huge gaps in it,” a senior Trump official told WaPo. “It was poor staff work.”
Trump’s national security team have not been reticent to criticize the past administration, who they see as weak and feckless. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn cited the Obama administration’s policies Wednesday with emboldening Iran, before issuing a stark “on notice” warning.
The Obama officials were upset and insisted the Trump administration would find the situation is far more complex than they knew.
Trump instead visited the Pentagon Saturday to order a 30-day comprehensive of U.S. strategy against ISIS. The directive fits with Trump’s inaugural pledge to “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism.”
Trump emphasized he wanted all military options on the table against the terrorist group, which the Obama plan did not provide any suggestions for. The options range from sending more U.S. special operators to Syria, directly arming rebel groups fighting ISIS, and using army attack helicopters against Raqqa.
Each option carries major implications for all parties involved in the Syrian civil war, and the terrorists who use it as safe haven. Sending more U.S. special operators to Syria to engage the enemy drastically increases the odds of casualties, something Trump repeatedly says he wishes to avoid. Turkey, a NATO ally and current occupying country of Syrian territory, regards certain Kurdish militias as an existential threat on the same level of ISIS. The use of Army attack helicopters on Raqqa also risks U.S. casualties.
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