By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
ISIS released an extremely disturbing video Tuesday, showing the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot who had been captured in December in a U.S.-led bombing campaign inside Syria.
The Washington Post reported the death of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, ending weeks of attempts to learn his fate, as part of a Jordanian offer to swap Kaseasbeh and a Japanese journalist held by the Islamic State, in exchange for a would-be suicide bomber, jailed in Jordan for a role in a deadly attack nearly a decade ago.
The Jordanian’s are holding various Islamic terrorists, including Sajida al-Rishawi, convicted in the deadly terror attack in Amman, Jordan, which killed 60 people in 2005.
In retribution for the death of the Jordanian pilot, Amman hanged Sajida al-Rishawi, and Ziad al-Karbouly who served as an aide to the founder of al-Qaida in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The Post continued that a video released Sunday showed the beheading of the Japanese reporter, Kenji Goto. But the Jordanian Armed Forces issued a statement saying that the 26-year-old Kaseasbeh was killed a month ago on Jan. 3 — without giving details on how it determined the timing.
Reports have filtered out that the gruesome execution of the Jordanian pilot had been conducted a month ago, given the detailed and complex video production of the event.
Many are speculating on why ISIS is now ramping up its savagery as a way to intimidate other Arab countries, or a broader strategic strategy of destabilizing Jordan, which has flown airstrikes into Syria more than any other country other than the United States.
Jordan has always been a staunch ally of the U.S., but is also a fragile state, with over a million refugees from the Syrian civil war, and with two thirds of the population being Palestinian – including the wife of the Jordanian King Abdullah.
The country is situated in a precarious area of the Middle East. This could be a way for ISIS to destabilize the region further to the Islamic States advantage.
This latest episode continually shows the depravity and brutal nature of the Islamic State, and places President Obama in a difficult predicament to what strategy he is perusing with regard to ISIS.
President Obama commented that “It’s just one more indication of the viciousness and barbarity of this organization,” Obama said. “And I think it will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of the global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated.”
The question national security strategists have struggled with is what is our strategy for defeating ISIS? Even Secretary of Defense designate Ashton Carter had a difficult time answering this question when asked during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Wednesday.
Just last week three former Secretaries of State from past administrations all testified before the Senate Armed Forces Committee in universal agreement that the U.S. still doesn’t have a coherent strategy for the Middle East.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Nixon and Ford Administrations, George Shultz from the Reagan Administration, and Madeleine Albright from the Clinton administration, all agreed on the indispensable role and capacity of U.S. leadership in the world.
During President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address he asked the Congress to pass a new military authorization, but has yet to articulate what that authorization would entail. Would this authorization be limited to Syria and Iraq, or will it expand to other nations in the region where ISIS has a presence?
Former Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, stated last month that “There are many sincere people in our government who frankly are paralyzed by this complexity,” said Flynn, so they “accept a defensive posture, reasoning that passivity is less likely to provoke our enemies.”
Last month three top former military commanders, General James Mattis, Admiral Fallon (both former Central Command Commanders), and Vice Army Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, all reiterated the same theme that a lack of clear strategic policy objectives is hampering the U.S. in the region.
US News & World Report wrote that an absence of clear policies from the White House makes it impossible for the U.S. to achieve any sort of victory in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to the three former top military officers who oversaw recent wars there.
The president and the administration have been giving conflicting statements on who the enemy is, and if you cannot define the enemy, then how will you go about defeating them?
This situation in the Middle East has been going on since 2011 when the civil war broke out in Syria, and the condition has only become substantially worse. The crisis in the Middle East will have to be addressed now and cannot wait until a new president takes office in 2017.
The question to be asked…what is the U.S. strategy for the region? I am not sure anyone knows.
See John’s other articles at The Ubaldi Reports.