America's Catastrophic Success Against Islamic State by Eli Lake – Bloomberg View
One might expect President Donald Trump to take a victory lap after last week's liberation of Raqqa from the Islamic State. Thanks to American air power, Maoist Kurds, Syrian patriots and U.S. special operators, this caliphate ended as the shortest-lived in Islamic history.
And yet the president chose not to exploit this win. The White House issued a five-paragraph statement. Much of last week was consumed with the president's feud over his phone call to the mother of one of the soldiers killed in Niger.
How to explain the subdued reaction? (After all, this White House is desperate for policy wins.)
It’s the geopolitical equivalent of “Mo Money Mo Problems.” Success brings new challenges. In this case, the eclipse of the Islamic State reopens old rifts in the Middle East that were paused to defeat a universally loathed enemy. As I reported in 2015 from Iraq, even the U.S. and Iran could cooperate (tacitly) against an outfit that operated sex slave markets and attempted genocide.
Now all of this fair-weather esprit de corps is gone. One glaring example is in northern Iraq, where the Iraqi Security Forces advanced on Kurdish Peshmerga positions in the last week following their recapture of Kirkuk, the oil-rich city Kurdish forces protected from the Islamic State in 2014. But there are small examples as well. In Raqqa there are now reports the Kurdish YPG militia have started taking down Syrian revolutionary flags favored by Arab members of the opposition forces that liberated the city, according to Jennifer Cafarella, senior analyst with the Institute for the Study of War…