‘A Serious Threat To Our Nation’

National Security Experts Warn, ‘The Fight Is Not Over Against ISIS’ And ‘A Hasty American Withdrawal’ From Afghanistan Could Result In Chaos And A ‘Safe Haven For International Terrorists’


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “My amendment would acknowledge the plain fact that al Qaeda, ISIS, and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to our nation. It would recognize the danger of a precipitous withdrawal from either conflict, and highlight the need for diplomatic engagement and political solutions to the underlying conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan…. This measure would reflect the conclusions of our nation’s military and national security professionals.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/29/2019)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “We have seen the costs of a precipitous withdrawal before in Iraq. And in Afghanistan, we have seen the downsides of telling the enemy they can just wait us out. So my amendment would also urge continued commitment from the U.S. military and our partners until we have set the conditions for the enduring defeat of these vile terrorists.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/29/2019)


‘US Officials Warn Of Stark Threat Posed By ISIS’

“Intelligence officials on Tuesday offered stark warnings of the threats posed by the terrorist organization ISIS … While Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel said the U.S. had made significant gains against ISIS, the report they oversaw argues that any lifting of pressure on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could allow it to regroup…. Coats and Haspel painted the picture of an adversary that has been weakened, but notably did not describe ISIS as having been completely defeated. Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that ISIS ‘still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria’ and ‘thousands of dispersed supporters around the world, despite significant leadership and territorial losses.’ Haspel said that the U.S. is ‘going to work very hard to finish that mission,’ referring to the fight against ISIS. Coats said the U.S. ‘should not underestimate the ability of terrorist groups particularly ISIS and affiliated groups,’ as well as al-Qaeda tied groups. ‘ISIS will continue to be a threat to the United States, and we’re going to have to continue to keep our eyes on that…as the realization that this terrorism threat is going to continue for some time,’ Coats said.” (‘US Officials Warn Of Stark Threat Posed By ISIS,’ The Hill, 1/29/2019)

  • US INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT: “ISIS still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and it maintains eight branches, more than a dozen networks, and thousands of dispersed supporters around the world, despite significant leadership and territorial losses. The group will exploit any reduction in [counterterrorism] pressure to strengthen its clandestine presence and accelerate rebuilding key capabilities … ISIS very likely will continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.” (“Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community,” Statement for the Record, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/29/2019)

COL. JONATHAN BYROM, Deputy Director of Joint Operations Command-Iraq: “[T]here is still work to be done and the international community has a role in restoring stability and prosperity to the people of Iraq that suffered under the ISIS rule of terror…. The threat of ISIS attacks remains, and the Iraqi Security Forces continue to aggressively pursue these remnants where they are hiding.” (Joint Operations Command-Iraq Briefing, 12/11/2018)

  • COL. BYROM: “Even with the continued Iraqi Security Forces operations throughout Iraq, the fight is not over against ISIS. As the Syrian Defense Forces complete the destruction of the physical caliphate in Syria, the Iraqi Security Forces continue clearance operations focused on ISIS safe havens in various locations throughout Iraq. Their continued operations will prevent any attempt at ISIS insurgency from gaining momentum, and are pivotal to maintaining stability in Iraq as the new Iraqi government completes its formation.” (Joint Operations Command-Iraq Briefing, 12/11/2018)


‘A Hasty American Withdrawal [From Afghanistan] Would Erode The Authority And Legitimacy Of The Afghan Government, Raising The Risk That The Taliban Could Recapture Control Of The Country’

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary General: “As we have said many, many, many times, we are in Afghanistan to create the conditions for a peaceful, negotiated solution…. [W]e will not leave before we have a situation which enables to leave or at reduce the number of troops without jeopardizing the main goal of our presence, and that is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists once again.” (Remarks at the Pentagon, Arlington, VA, 1/28/2019)

THE NEW YORK TIMES: “President Trump’s headway in Afghan peace negotiations with the Taliban raises the same question that has bedeviled other presidents who extracted American troops from foreign wars: Will the departing Americans end up handing over the country to the same ruthless militants that the United States went to war to dislodge? A hasty American withdrawal, experts said, would erode the authority and legitimacy of the Afghan government, raising the risk that the Taliban could recapture control of the country. Short of that, it could consign Afghanistan to a protracted, bloody civil war, with Taliban fighters besieging the capital, Kabul, as they did in the 1990s.” (“Taliban Talks Raise Question of What U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Could Mean,” The New York Times, 1/28/2019)

  • “James Dobbins, a former top Obama administration official for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said it was imperative that the United States remain in Afghanistan while the Taliban and Afghan government enter into talks and reach any agreement, and leave only when a deal is implemented. ‘Don’t withdraw until there is an enduring agreement that provides for peace,’ Mr. Dobbins said. ‘If we pull out too soon, it means the country descends into civil war, and extremist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State gain new scope for far-flung attacks.’” (“Taliban Talks Raise Question of What U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Could Mean,” The New York Times, 1/28/2019)



Related Issues: Afghanistan, ISIL, America's Military, War on Terror, National Security, Iraq, Al Qaeda, Syria