Iraqi Drama Catches U.S. Off Guard

(Wall Street Journal) Adam Entous and Julian Barnes - At a gathering of Gulf states in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in May, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Arab counterparts agreed that Islamist forces seizing territory in Syria and Iraq had become a region-wide menace that can't be ignored. What they didn't agree on was what to do about it. The loss of Mosul in Iraq was a strategic blow and the U.S. doubts the Iraqi military will be able to take it back soon, officials said. Today, ISIS' network of fighters in Syria and Iraq are better trained than its predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq. ISIS operates in formations like an army, said a senior U.S. counterterrorism official. Some military officials now believe ISIS is the single greatest terrorist threat the U.S. and its allies face - stronger than the al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen or Africa and far more powerful than al-Qaeda's central leadership in Pakistan. The administration has pursued a containment strategy, aimed at keeping the al-Qaeda threat from spreading beyond Syria and Iraq to neighboring states, particularly Jordan. Following ISIS' successes in Iraq this week, many officials are questioning whether the threat can still be contained.

2014-06-12 00:00:00

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