Trump: “ISIL to be wiped out soon”

Islamic State militants could be completely stripped of their territorial base as soon as next week, President Trump said Wednesday, as he reiterated that U.S. forces fighting the militants in Syria will withdraw from the country.

Background

ISIL is a Salafi jihadist militant group and former unrecognised proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIL gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.

The group has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and many individual countries. ISIL is widely known for its videos of beheadings and other types of executions of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites.

Analysis

Trump addressed diplomats from more than 70 countries meeting at the State Department to discuss how to proceed against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq now that the group’s militants have been pushed out of all but a sliver of the self-proclaimed caliphate they ruled brutally.

Trump did not give an exact timeline for when the troops will depart, but he tied that promise to what he called the territorial defeat of the group also known as ISIS.

“It should be formally announced, sometime probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate,” Trump said, referring to the territory in Iraq and Syria controlled by the militants. “But I want to wait for the official word. I don’t want to say it too early.”

The meeting is the coalition’s first get-together since Trump’s sudden announcement on Twitter in December that the Syria mission was over because, he contended, the Islamic State had been defeated and the mandate for the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops had run its course. Officials in his administration immediately tried to walk back the statement, and the Senate rebuked the withdrawal.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the eventual elimination of ISIL from Iraqi and Syrian territory will be regarded as  one of Trump’s biggest foreign policy successes. We believe that to prevent a repeat of the past, the US should not withdraw  prematurely until the Iraqi government is in complete control over its territory.