Oct 30, 2019

Biden says Trump's foreign policy will likely boost ISIS

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden addresses a crowd at Wilson High Schooin Florence, South Carolina, on Oct. 26. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told the Washington Post President Trump's conduct would likely bolster Islamic State recruitment and cause more instability in the Middle East because he "has no foreign policy" and "seems to act on a whim."

Why it matters: Those comments and further criticism in a Medium blog of Trump's conduct following the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a U.S. operation in northwestern Syria show that foreign policy is a key strategy of the Biden campaign.

  • The former vice president is making the case for being an international statesman by touting his experience in the Obama administration to point out differences in his and Trump's foreign policy records. WashPost notes Biden is "one of the few Democratic candidates who supports keeping some U.S. troops in Syria."
It’s like dealing not with a commander in chief, but a whiner in chief. It’s bizarre."
— Biden to WashPost on Trump's conduct

The big picture: In the interview published Tuesday, Biden doubled down on his criticism of Trump in the Medium post that the death of Baghdadi happened "despite his ineptitude as Commander-in-Chief."

  • Biden said "there's no coherence" on what would happen next regarding the U.S. and Syria, given Trump's decision to withdraw troops from the country.
  • He said national security officials were treating him "like a baby" and that Trump's allies "essentially tricked him into leaving some troops in Syria by telling him he could control the oil there."
  • The former vice president noted that the Obama administration always stressed that U.S. troops were not in Iraq for the country’s oil because that would be a "recruiting tool" for terrorists.
"The death of [Baghdadi] is proof in the wisdom of the strategy, that without committing our troops to endless wars, you can still in fact protect our interests and the interests of friends and allies. You need people on the ground. You need allies on the ground.
"I don’t think [Trump] has any sense of geopolitical concerns that exist, where interests lie, why we need allies and why we don’t need forever troops. He doesn’t seem to understand that the ability of ISIS to reconstitute itself is real."

The other side: The president was praised following Baghdadi's death by Republican allies and adversaries alike, including Trump critic Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who previously criticized Trump over the planned troop withdrawal.

  • Graham said Trump "had a determination to destroy the caliphate, unlike anybody I've ever met. Now, the question is how to keep it down," per Fox News.

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ISIS confirms death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and announces new leader

An image-grab taken from an ISIS propaganda video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

ISIS confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Thursday, naming his successor Abu Ibrahim Hashimi al-Quraishi in a message posted by the Islamic State's propaganda arm, NBC News reports.

The big picture: The group also acknowledged that its former spokesman, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, was killed in a separate strike, per the New York Times. This is the first time ISIS has recognized al-Baghdadi's death following the American-led raid into northern Syria last weekend. NBC reported Thursday that al-Baghdidi had been betrayed by a member of his inner circle who guided U.S. troops to his compound. U.S. officials warned they expect extremist groups to try and retaliate.

Go deeper: Baghdadi raid depended on international ties Trump has spurned

Keep ReadingArrowOct 31, 2019

Top diplomat says U.S. abandoned Kurds to "catastrophic" Turkish assault

Civilians in the Syrian Kurdish border town of Ras al-Ain mourn those killed in Turkish attacks. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. "didn't try" to stop the "catastrophic" Turkish invasion of northern Syria last month, according to a sharply critical internal memo sent by a top U.S. diplomat and obtained by the New York Times.

Why it matters: The diplomat, deputy U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition William Roebuck, said the U.S. had abandoned its Kurdish allies to a Turkish onslaught that involved "war crimes and ethnic cleansing." Those concerns have been widespread in the Pentagon and State Department but not stated publicly by senior officials. Roebuck sent the memo on Oct. 31 to the U.S. envoy for Syria policy, James Jeffrey, and to more than 40 other officials who work on Syria issues.

Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019

U.S. releases Baghdadi raid video and warns of ISIS reprisal attacks

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, holds a press briefing at the Pentagon Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Defense Department released video Wednesday of the U.S.-led raid in northwestern Syria in which Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed last weekend — as officials warned they're expecting ISIS to try to retaliate over his death.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 30, 2019