Al Qaeda Scores Major Victory in Iraq

Posted: Jan 06, 2014 7:22 AM

October 18, 2012:

"We focused on the terrorists and al Qaeda is on the run." -President Barack Obama

In case you missed it over the weekend, al Qaeda fighters in Iraq took over Fallujah, a major city close to the Capitol of Baghdad, despite President Obama repeatedly saying in 2012 that the terrorist group is "on the run." Obama was in Hawaii on vacation when the violent takeover occurred.

After fighting in a bloody three-day war, Al Qaeda-affiliated militants captured the western city of Fallujah, and raised its flag over government buildings in the city previously secured by U.S. forces before withdrawing from the country two years later.

Hadi Razeij, head of the Anbar province police force, said police had left the city center entirely and had positioned themselves on the edge of town.

"The walls of the city are in the hands of the police force, but the people of Fallujah are the prisoners of ISIL," he said, speaking on Arabic language satellite broadcaster al-Arabiya.

Fallujah, along with nearby provincial capital Ramadi, was a stronghold of Sunni insurgents during the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Al Qaeda militants largely took both cities over last week and have been fending off incursions by government forces there since.

President Obama has been repeatedly warned of the violent consequences of rapidly pulling U.S. troops from the country and now we're seeing the results of his exit strategy in Iraq: going backward.

Along with Fallujah, Al Qaeda fighters last week also took control of most parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi.

Iraqi troops have since been trying to dislodge militants from the group, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, from the two cities. On Sunday, fighting in Anbar killed at least 34 people, including 22 soldiers.

The recent gains by Al Qaeda in Iraq have been a blow to the country's Shiite-led government, as sectarian violence has escalated since the U.S. withdrawal.

Republicans on Capitol Hill aren't pleased. Senator McCain and Graham blasted President Obama in a joint statement saying, "While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” the senators said in a joint statement. “When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces … over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America's enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever.”

Meanwhile, 73 percent of U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan have occurred under President Obama. Violence in that country is expected to get worse in 2014.