US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently told a Washington committee that the military was falling far short of its training goals in Iraq.
“Our training efforts in Iraq have thus far been slowed by a lack of trainees,” Carter told the committee a week after President Barack Obama announced that he’d be sending more advisers there to train forces to fight Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh).
“We simply haven’t received enough recruits.”
Meanwhile, the US training program for Syria to counter ISIS has not yet produced a single fighter.
The training failures highlight a massive contradiction that is crippling Obama’s strategy to combat Sunni extremist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
While the president insists that Sunnis are a crucial part of the plan to defeat ISIS, the administration is achieving little as the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad slaughters Sunnis in droves and the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad avoids arming and training Sunnis out of fear that they might one day rise up against Baghdad.
At the heart of this growing contradiction is Iran. Tehran, which is Syria’s primary ally in the Middle East and close to the powers that be in Iraq, is actively opposed to Sunni involvement.
Consequently, the US finds itself stifled in the fight against ISIS at the same time officials are engaging in negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal.