Donald Trump will undoubtedly use the death of Islamic State founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to his full political advantage, just short of concocting a description of how he himself singlehandedly assassinated Baghdadi. And while it is indeed a military victory to have eliminated the terrorist leader, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusions that the Islamic State is dead, let alone that Donald Trump is solely responsible for its demise. Nor should we conclude that, by getting rid of al-Baghdadi, this somehow exonerates Trump for withdrawing troops from Syria.
In fact, as a result of Trump’s recent decision to remove troops from Syria, his earlier decisions to reduce U.S. military presence in that part of the world, and his cuts in military funding for reconstruction and stabilization, security in that area has become tenuous, and this impacts not only the Middle East, but global and U.S. security.
Over the next few days and weeks, Trump is expected to proclaim ISIS has been obliterated, and terrorism wiped out. But because Baghdadi established a global presence with decentralized decision-making, eliminating Baghdadi himself may have little immediate effect on ground functions in Syria and Iraq.
According to Javed Ali, a former White House counterterrorism director, “No one expects (al-Baghdadi’s) death to spell the end of the organization that at its peak controlled territory the size of Great Britain and instigated terrorist attacks across Europe… In the annals of modern counterterrorism so far, what history has shown is these types of strikes do not lead to the strategic collapse or organizational defeat of a terrorism organization.”
The New York Times said that Trump’s decision to withdraw forces from northern Syria disrupted prior meticulous strategizing, forcing the Pentagon to press ahead with a raid before losing the ability to “control troops and spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared.” In other words, “Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death occurred largely in spite of Mr. Trump’s actions.”
Around the world, some news outlets have also speculated that Baghdadi’s death could result in large-scale retaliation. The Sun of London posted this headline: “Baghdadi’s death could trigger (a) wave of revenge attacks on US and Europe and spark ISIS 2.0, experts warn.”
What we can be certain of is that no matter what the results of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, Donald Trump will spin them to his advantage, and his supporters will go along, unquestioningly.
Lindsey Graham praises Trump in death of ISIS leader |
Fox News [2019-10-27]
Donald Trump: Isil leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ‘died like a dog’ |
The Telegraph [2019-10-27]