WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s administration is ready “to be more engaged” and take terrorism in the Middle East head on, proclaimed the prime minister of war-ravaged Iraq when asked if the commander-in-chief’s approach to defeating the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is different than his predecessor’s.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi suggested a commitment to combating jihadist groups should not only involve the use of military force through the deployment of a vast number of American troops, noting, “There are better ways for defeating terrorism and I think we can do it.”
During a discussion hosted by the American taxpayer-funded think-tank U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) shortly after he visited the White House Monday, PM Haider declared when comparing Trump’s efforts to annihilate ISIS with those of Barack Obama:
I think this administration wants to be more engaged in fighting terrorism and I can sense a difference in terms of being head-to-head with terrorism. I think they’re prepared to do more to fight terrorism, to be more engaged.
I don’t think now the public opinion, especially in the U.S. and in other places, would encourage sending troops in large numbers. So I think terrorism — you don’t defeat it by military force only. There are better ways for defeating terrorism, and I think we can do it.
The Shiite PM conceded that he had not seen the Trump administration’s specific plan to wipe out ISIS.
“To be honest, I haven’t seen a full plan. I know there’s a plan,” said Abadi, adding that Iraq has its own strategy.
Nevertheless, he said the entire Middle East “region must have a plan to wipe out terrorism.”
The Iraqi leader pointed out that the various Muslim-majority countries, including some covered by Trump’s revised executive order (EO) restricting immigration, are a hotbed for terrorist activities. “In our world, in the region, there are many terrorist activities… in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and other areas. Yemen as well. So I think we have to stay focused on this,” he told the audience at the USIP event Monday.
“In our world, in the region, there are many terrorist activities… in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and other areas. Yemen as well. So I think we have to stay focused on this,” he told the audience at the USIP event Monday.
President Trump’s EO limits immigration from six terror-linked countries — Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
“We have to remove terrorism from being used in the region of conflict,” proclaimed PM Abadi, adding, “Daesh [ISIS] was not spontaneous. It was not just born overnight” in Iraq and Syria.
The Iraqi prime minister said that the U.S.-backed local forces in Iraq are close to pushing ISIS out of the country, particularly from the Nineveh province’s city of Mosul, believed to be the group’s last remaining stronghold in the nation.
“We are at the last stage of liberating the whole of Nineveh and after that liberating the whole of Iraq from Daesh [ISIS],” said Abadi.
Although ISIS is close to defeat, ISIS is still receiving funds and foreign fighters, warned the prime minister.