Krauthammer: US should amp up support of Kurds in Iraq and Syria

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer told viewers on "Special Report" that the US should amp up its support of the Kurds in Iraq and Syria as the strategy against Islamic militants founder. 
 
Fox obtained documents that show aides to the DIA Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart struck the word "quagmire" from his draft testimony about Iraq.
 
Krauthammer faults the Obama administration for not vigorously supporting the groups that have made headways in countering ISIS  noting the recent victory in which the Kurds captured Tal Abyad, Syria from the militants,  "Our strategy ought to be to arm, supply and support with heavy air support the Iraqi Kurds, the Syrian Kurds and there's also the front of the Free Syrian Army in southern Syria which is advancing as well."
 
The White House has been relying on the Iraqi government to unify sectarian factions in forming a fighting army, however, progress has been non-existent. 
 
"These are people we should be supporting but not the Iraqi government and its forces in the field who don't fight and who are not our friend," said Krauthammer. 
 

Fox News Reporting: Unholy War--The March of ISIS

As ISIS cuts a swath across the Middle East with unparalleled brutality, how will the world respond--and will America lead, or follow?  Fox News Reporting shows you the damage wrought by ISIS as few have seen it, with exclusive stories and footage of the devastated families whose only mistake was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And, Bret Baier exclusively speaks to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, a rare leader in the region who has stood up to Islamic terror, and dared call it by its name.  All this and more in Unholy War—The March Of ISIS.

Dr. Fuad Hussein

Dr. Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to Kurdish President Barzani, sat down with Bret for an exclusive interview for The Daily Bret. Dr. Fuad is here as part of a delegation from the Kurdish Regional Government to meet with administration officials on the recent advances in the US policy on ISIS in Iraq.

He spoke to Bret about the situation on the ground in the Kurdish region of Iraq as they defend against ISIS, and their remaining needs from the US government.

Senator Inhofe "one size fits all" approach will not work in Iraq/Syria

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) criticized the White House strategy in Iraq and Syria by raising publicly, a point that is being discussed privately, and widely in military and intelligence circles.

Inhofe said the administration’s position that they will employ the same strategy used in Yemen and Somalia, does not acknowledge the clear differences in the adversary, ISIS, and conditions on the ground.

Yemen is a government that has given tacit approval to the US drone campaign and Somalia lacks a coherent government to object to the campaign. Inhofe says this cookie cutter approach by the President does not recognize that ISIS holds more territory (size of Great Britain), has more money, has 10-thousands of fighters, and in both Iraq and Syria there are functioning governments, and in Syria an air defense system.

While the targeted killing campaign has taken out leadership in Yemen and Somalia, both groups have found ways to replace.  By example, al-Shabaab replaced Godane who was killed in an airstrike earlier this  month – within days.

Baier Tracks: A view from the ground in Iraq

Largely overlooked in the back and forth about what is being said and done (and not done) on the strategy for dealing with ISIS are the thoughts of the U.S. troops being deployed to Iraq.  Rarely do we get a glimpse into their thoughts, but I received an email from a friend – a special operator who is in contact with his fellow soldiers who have been deployed to Iraq – that provides some insight. My friend said it would okay to pass along what he’s hearing anonymously:  ‘I'm getting notes from the guys over in these operations centers in Iraq. Frustration and confusion reign.  Their commander in chief has deployed them back into harm’s way with a defensive mission to only defend US facilities against ISIS, that it's not a US problem to solve, and the Iraqis must get their act together politically.   Now today he says we are going to destroy and degrade ISIS, and in the same sentence that we are going to only manage them.  Then we have our Vice President in a Howard Dean moment.   My favorite quote of the day from an operator downrange ‘Chase them to the Gates of Hell?   How the F$&k are we going to do that when we can't even leave the front gate of our base!?’”

Interesting perspective from someone redeployed to Iraq.

Steven Sotloff

A video purporting to show the beheading of 31 year old US journalist Steven Sotloff has been released online by ISIS. The video titled "A Second Message to America," also threatens the life of British captive David Haines.

Sotloff was kidnapped in 2013 near Aleppo after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, The National Interest, Media Line, World Affairs, and Foreign Policy Magazine. 

Sotloff grew up in South Florida and attended the University of Central Florida with a major in journalism. 

Earlier this year a video was released by the terrorist organization ISIS titled "A Message to America," showing the brutal murder by beheading of US journalist James Foley. In the video ISIS delivers a message to President Obama, stating the president's next move would decide Sotloff's fate. Following the video the United States increased airstrikes against ISIS. 

The new video features Sotloff speaking into the camera, saying he is "paying the price" for U.S. intervention. It is important to note that as a prisoner his words may very well have been scripted. 

A spokesperson for the Sotloff family released a statement about the video and stated the family is "grieving privately."

Our hearts and our prayers go out his family and friends at this time. We are deeply saddened by this terrible news. 

Special Report Guest: Karwan Zebari

Tonight on Special Report Bret Baier sits down with Karwan Zebari, the acting director of Congressional and Academic Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to discuss the latest coming out of Iraq. 
 
Zebari is the highest KRG official in Washington, DC and supervises all relations between the KRG and U.S. Congress. Zebari also develops academic initiatives and programs with universities and academic institutions nationwide on matters related to Kurdistan. He can provide insight on the situation on the ground--
 
If you have a question for Karwan Zebari please tweet us @BretBaier or post via Facebook at facebook.com/bretbaiersr using #AskBret . Your question might just end up on our air! 

 

Convert or Die

By: Bridget Creel, Special Report Summer Associate

In response to a deadly ultimatum delivered by ISIS, thousands of Iraqi Christians have left their homes to seek safety from religious persecution.

Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was captured by ISIS in June and the extremists have threatened and even harmed all inhabitants who do not practice Islam. 

This weekend, the Islamic State terror group (ISIS/IS) delivered a statement to Christians that gave them the choice between converting to Islam, paying a tax or fleeing their ancient homeland. The offer was time sensitive and if they failed to choose by Saturday, July 19, ISIS said there would be “nothing for them but the sword.”

Christians who were not willing to compromise with the militants fled Mosul. Before they were able to officially depart, ISIS demanded that they be stripped of all valuable belongings, leaving most Christians with nothing but remnants of their clothing.

Christians are not the only ones affected by the acts of ISIS. ISIS is responsible for the destruction of mosques and shrines, causing other religious minorities to flee Mosul as well.

Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, called for governmental support for the homeless Iraqis who were forced to leave Mosul. He said that this specific event demonstrates "the extreme criminality and terrorist nature of this group.”

Although many have moved away, some Iraqi Christians are facing the alternatives. Several Christians have converted to Islam and those that choose to stay, refuse to abandon their religious beliefs.

Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Mouche told the Washington Post, “If we all leave, it sends the message that there is nowhere safe for Christians to live in Iraq — and this worries me. I’m not a vagabond. This is my home, and I will die here if necessary.”

President Obama Proposes $500 Million To Aid Syrian Rebels

The White House sent Congress a $500 million request Thursday for a Pentagon-run program that would significantly expand previous covert efforts to arm rebels fighting both the Sunni extremists and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

If approved by lawmakers, the program would in effect open a second front in the fight against militants spilling over Syria's border and threatening to overwhelm neighboring Iraq.

President Obama has long been reluctant to arm the Syrian opposition, in part because of concerns that weapons may fall into extremist hands. But administration officials say the U.S. has grown increasingly confident in recent months about its ability to distinguish the moderate rebels from the more extremist elements that include the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has stormed into Iraq and captured much of the northern part of the country.

Jennifer Griffin has more tonight on Special Report

ISIS: What's Next?

A picture is emerging of consistent and persistent warnings by the intelligence community about ISIS and a failure to heed or act on the warnings with congressional sources telling Fox air strikes a month ago when ISIS was still in camps on the Syrian border were a missed opportunity. 

Sunni extremists took over a border crossing between Iraq and Syria over the weekend leaving ISIS's threat closing in on the country. Yesterday, Syria reportedly responded with air strikes, killing 50+people. 

After a classified briefing late Tuesday, Senators described ISIS as a direct threat to the US, warning that Jordan is likely next as well as the Balad air base, Iraq's largest and former HQ for US forces. For now, the United States is taking a less aggressive approach, but pressure continues to mount against a growing regional threat

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Iraq earlier in the week to meet with leaders and encourage a more inclusive government. Today he is in Brussels to attend a NATO meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Iraq. Kerry has presently ruled out US air strikes--

James Rosen is traveling with Secretary Kerry and will have more for us tonight on Special Report. 

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