IS crisis: Hillary blames Obama policies
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed the rise of Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria on failures of US policy under President Barack Obama, in an interview published on Sunday.
Clinton specifically faulted the US decision to stay on the sidelines of the insurgency against Syria’s President Bashar Assad as opening the way for the most extreme rebel faction, the Islamic State.
“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad — there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle — the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton told the Atlantic.
Clinton, widely considered an undeclared presidential candidate, was an unsuccessful advocate of arming the Syrian opposition forces when she was secretary of state during Obama’s first term.
She was interviewed before the US president’s decision on Thursday to order limited air strikes to check an IS offensive into Kurdistan, which threatened US nationals and facilities and sent thousands of refugees fleeing into the mountains.
Clinton suggested in the interview that Obama lacked a strategy for dealing with the IS threat.
“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” she said referring to an Obama slogan.
She said the US must develop an “overarching” strategy to confront extremism.
“One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of extremist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the US,” she said.
“Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand.