Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 23, 2015

Posts in "Iraq"

May 19, 2015

Despite Ramadi, White House Says ISIL Strategy a Success

Secretary of Defense Carter was set to brief Obama Tuesday afternoon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Secretary of Defense Carter was set to brief Obama Tuesday afternoon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite the takeover of the Iraqi city of Ramadi by the Islamic State terror group, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest contended Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s strategy to defeat the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has been a success.

Asked repeatedly Tuesday about the loss of the capital of the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province despite months of bombing from U.S. and coalition planes, Earnest instead said the president’s strategy, which relies on local forces on the ground, had succeeded in rolling back ISIS gains in Kobani, Syria, and the Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, Tikrit and in other areas in Iraq.

Earnest said the loss of Ramadi was “an indication that Iraqi security forces need to retool their efforts,” but said “we’re optimistic” that together with American air power ISIS gains will be reversed.

As for the overall strategy, Jon Karl of ABC News asked if the president’s strategy was a success.

“Overall, yes,” Earnest said, although moreso than in recent days, he hinted changes could be coming.

He said Obama is “constantly” testing the strategy and asking his commanders about what can be done to improve the strategy. “Including today,” Earnest said.

Obama is set to meet with Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter this afternoon.

Earnest also dismissed criticism from Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, who said earlier Tuesday that the president should start over with a new strategy and a new proposal for an Authorization to Use Military Force to take on the terror group.

Boehner, Earnest said, as well as other lawmakers in both parties had been “AWOL” on an AUMF against ISIL. He said Boehner has given “excuse after excuse” instead of doing his job and considering the AUMF.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

May 18, 2015

After Ramadi, Boehner Calls on Obama to Change Course on ISIL

Boehner wants Obama to overhaul his ISIL war strategy. ISIS Islamic State

Boehner wants Obama to overhaul his ISIL war strategy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi has Speaker John A. Boehner once again urging Barack Obama to develop a new strategy to win the war against the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIL or ISIS. But so far, the White House is staying the course.

“It is clearer than ever that the Obama administration must rethink its strategy that has repeatedly underestimated ISIL,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call. “For weeks, as terrorists advanced on Ramadi, the White House insisted that ISIL was on the defensive. Now it says it has no new approach to announce. This must change — quickly.”

Boehner has been one of Obama’s most persistent critics in Congress on the issue, frequently urging him to do more to take on the terror group.

Eric Schultz, the White House deputy press secretary, acknowledged to reporters Monday that ISIL has made gains, after on May 15 declaring that their momentum has been “blunted.”

“There’s no denying that this is indeed a setback. But there’s also no denying that we will help the Iraqis take back Ramadi,” he said, per a pool report.

Schultz had no preview of any new strategy.

“Today we are supporting the Iraqi forces and the government of Iraq with precision airstrikes and advice to the Iraqi forces. Our aircraft are in the air right now and searching for ISIL targets. They will continue to do so until Ramadi is retaken. … ISIL will ultimately be defeated in Ramadi and elsewhere in Iraq because we believe the Iraqi forces have the capacity to ultimately take Ramadi with coalition support.”

Boehner, meanwhile, said the House stands ready to work with Obama to provide the resources needed to win:

“As I’ve said again and again, if we’re going to win this fight we need a broad, overarching strategy to defeat and destroy our terrorist enemies. While this is something that only President Obama, as commander-in-chief, can do, the president should know that the U.S. House of Representatives is ready to work with him to ensure our troops – as well as our Middle East partners – have the resources they need to carry out their missions.

Last week the House passed legislation with bipartisan support to reinforce our mission against ISIL. This legislation authorizes resources for security assistance to Iraqi forces, approves a pilot program to counter propaganda efforts and reaffirms our commitment to working with the sovereign Government of Iraq to bring peace and stability to the region. We hope President Obama will reconsider his opposition to this important legislation, which fully funds the president’s defense requests for fiscal year 2016, and stand ready to do what it takes to defeat these brutal terrorists and keep America safe.”

Related:

Are We Losing the War Against ISIL?

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

May 15, 2015

Are We Losing the War Against ISIL?

A member of the Iraqi interior ministry's anti-terrorism forces stands guard on a vehicle outside the Habaniyah military base, near Anbar province's capital Ramadi, on May 8. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of the Iraqi interior ministry’s anti-terrorism forces stands guard on a vehicle outside the Habaniyah military base, near Anbar province’s capital Ramadi, on May 8. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

It seemed like the right question to ask, with fighters from the Islamic State terror group making sweeping gains in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province in Iraq — “Are we losing this war?” Full story

February 11, 2015

Congress Gets to Dust Off Its War Voting Powers

Sen. Tim Kaine, left, and House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff want to debate a war authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tim Kaine, left, and House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff want to debate a war authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For the first time this decade, Congress is set to have a full-fledged war debate. The White House wants pure kabuki with no practical effect; lawmakers, most of whom have never voted to send men and women into harm’s way, will have to choose whether to go along.

President Barack Obama is intent on doing what he wants either way — as he already has in his undeclared war on the Islamic State terror group for months, with Congress on the sidelines. Full story

November 24, 2014

Chuck Hagel Out at DOD; Jack Reed, Michele Flournoy, Ashton Carter on Short List (Updated) (Video)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will be replaced, the New York Times is reporting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hagel is on his way out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:23 p.m. | President Barack Obama is getting a new Defense secretary.

Obama announced Monday in the State Dining Room that Chuck Hagel will be leaving his post once a successor is confirmed by the Senate. Hagel tendered his resignation earlier Monday after a series of crises erupted on his watch, including the rise of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Full story

November 7, 2014

Obama Wants $5.6B for ISIS War, Sends More Troops to Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train on a weapon during a training session with British military advisers (unseen) at a shooting range on the outskirts of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on November 5. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train on a weapon during a training session with British military advisers (unseen) at a shooting range in northern Iraq on November 5. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $5.6 billion more for the war against ISIS, and is sending another 1,500 troops to Iraq.

The White House made the announcements as congressional leaders exited a post-election lunch with the president without speaking to the press.

Obama’s latest request is stacked on top of a $6.2 billion ask to combat the Ebola crisis.

The White House said the troops heading to Iraq would be in a non-combat role advising the Iraq military. The funding for the war on ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL, includes money to upgrade the Iraqi military as well as Kurdish forces. It also includes funding for State Department activities.

Both supplementals are likely to be part of the overall debate on funding the government. Congress must pass a new spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:18 p.m.
Iraq, ISIS

October 14, 2014

White House Defends ISIS War: ‘This Strategy Is Succeeding’

Abandoned houses in the Syrian city of Kobani after fighting between Syrian Kurds and militants from Islamic State. (Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)

Abandoned houses in the Syrian city of Kobani after fighting between Syrian Kurds and militants from Islamic State. (Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)

Despite gains by ISIS in Syria and Iraq in the face of airstrikes, the White House insists President Barack Obama’s strategy to “destroy” the terrorist group remains on track.

“This strategy is succeeding,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters of the president’s fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State. Earnest appeared to minimize the potential takeover of the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria on the border with Turkey.

Earnest blamed the lack of ground forces in the fight for the possible plight of Kobani — even as he noted that Obama has ruled out putting American ground forces into the fight. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:30 p.m.
Iraq, ISIS, Syria

September 29, 2014

Boehner Aide Calls Earnest’s ISIS Remarks ‘Stupid’

Steel on Monday called Earnest's comments stupid. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Steel called Earnest’s comments “stupid.” (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman ripped White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s remarks today tying Boehner’s position on defeating ISIS to President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy.

“Trying, for political purposes, to link Speaker Boehner’s position on destroying ISIL with former President Bush’s Iraq policy and splitting hairs where they don’t exist is, frankly, stupid,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “That’s no way to build bipartisan support for a real strategy to keep America safe. Everyone understands that ruling out options in advance shows weakness to our enemies.”

Steel was reacting to Earnest’s comments in today’s daily briefing about Boehner’s comments on ABC’s “This Week” over the weekend. The Ohio Republican said there might be “no choice” but to deploy American ground forces against ISIS and criticized Obama for ruling out ground forces at the start. He did not call for an Iraq-style invasion, but was asked if U.S. ground forces would be needed if others did not step up. Full story

September 23, 2014

Congress Reacts to Syria Airstrikes

The deal securing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release will be the subject of hearings in the House Armed Services Committee. Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., has said he believes Obama broke the law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McKeon and other congressional leaders praised the airstrikes in Syria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional hawks are cheering the multifaceted overnight airstrikes in Syria that included attacks on Islamic State insurgents and an al Qaida offshoot called the Khorasan Group, while others are lamenting Congress’ decision to duck a war authorization vote.

“Our men and women in uniform are once again striking an enemy that threatens our freedom,” said House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.  “This is one step in what will be a long fight against ISIL. With strong coalition partners, a capable military, and a clear mission; it is a fight we can win.”

The Islamic State is also known as ISIL or ISIS.

“It is especially significant — indeed historic — that these strikes involve forces from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich. “The visible, public involvement of Arab and Muslim nations is crucial to long-term success against ISIS. While Western military force can help combat the poisonous ideology of groups such as ISIS, ultimately it is up to Muslim nations to resist and eliminate this poison.”

Other lawmakers said the strikes should have been authorized by Congress, including Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on MSNBC reiterated his push for Congress to act, but said he doesn’t expect Congress to return until after the elections.

So far, any opposition in Congress has been muted.

“To defeat ISIS, we must cut off the head of the snake, which exists in Syria,” said Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of House Homeland Security, in a statement.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce of California called the strikes “long overdue.”

“While this initial attack will be a big psychological blow to the terrorist group, an air campaign will need to be major and sustained,” he said.

President Obama is scheduled to speak about the strikes in an address from the White House before he heads to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

The simultaneous strikes against the Khorasan Group, meanwhile, were taken to disrupt an “imminent attack.”

“The United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qa’ida veterans — sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group — who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations,” Central Command said in a statement this morning.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Syrian regime was informed of the intent to strike by Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

“We warned Syria not to engage U.S. aircraft.  We did not request the regime’s permission.  We did not coordinate our actions with the Syrian government. We did not provide advance notification to the Syrians at a military level, or give any indication of our timing on specific targets,” she said.

John Donnelly contributed to this report.

 

Related:

Congressional Hawks Cheer Overnight Strikes in Syria

House Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels; CR Passes

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

McCarthy Suggests Post-Election Vote Authorizing Military Force

Path Forward on CR, Title 10 Authority Starts to Crystalize

Obama Asserts Authority to Take on ISIS Without Congress

Congress Locked in ISIS War Muddle

Inhofe: Obama Speech Prompts ‘Sigh of Relief’ From ISIS

Obama Speech Excerpt: We’re Going to (Air) War Against ISIS

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

September 12, 2014

How Obama Will Pay for His War (Video)

From left, Reps. Morgan Griffith, Adam Kinzinger and Kevin Cramer head to a briefing on Obama's ISIS news. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

From left, Reps. Morgan Griffith, Adam Kinzinger and Kevin Cramer head to a briefing on Obama’s ISIS news. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House doesn’t know yet how much the new war with ISIS will cost, but it knows how it will pay for it: the all-purpose war funding credit card.

Officially known as Overseas Contingency Operations, it’s the catchall account used to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that is now funding the war against the group also known as the Islamic State or ISIL.

The White House is counting on OCO money in the pending continuing resolution to pay for President Barack Obama’s plan to go on offense against the group.

In a practical sense, a vote for the CR is a vote to fund Obama’s war, even though the words “ISIS” and “ISIL” do not appear anywhere in the text. In the draft House CR, it’s simply listed as funding for “Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism.”
Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 4:30 p.m.
Budget, Iraq, ISIS, Syria

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...