>>>EARLIER THIS WEEK NEWS BROKE
ABOUT THE DEATH OF AL-BAGHDADI, AN ISIS LEADER KILLED IN THE
UNITED STATES LED RAID IN NORTHWEST SYRIA. HIS DEATH IS A BLOW TO THE
TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN IN SYRIA IN LIGHT
OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WITHDRAWAL OF U.S. TROOPS FROM
THE REGION? CAROLEE MCGRATH SALT DOWN WITH
RETIRED ARM LATEST COLONEL GARY LAPORTE, AND A PROFESSOR AT
INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE TO GET SOME INSIGHT.>>FROM A MILITARY PERSPECTIVE
IT’S FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT THAT THE UNITED STATES WAS ABLE TO PULL
TOGETHER THE INTELLIGENCE TO BE ABLE TO EVENTUALLY FIND
AL-BAGHDADI AND KILL HIM. I THINK THE SIGNIFICANCE CAN BE
VERY FAR REACHING, ESPECIALLY FROM AN ISIS PERSPECTIVE. THEIR ORGANIZATION LEADERSHIP IS
IN DISARRAY. NOT ONLY WAS AL-BAGHDADI KILLED,
BUT ALSO HIS SECOND IN COMMAND. I THINK YOU’LL FIND AL-BAGHDADI
WILL BE HARD TO BE REPLACED BECAUSE IT WASN’T JUST SEEN AS A
MILITARY LEADER BUT ALSO A SPIRITUAL LEADER BECAUSE OF THE
CALIPHATE THAT HE ESTABLISHED IN 2014. I THINK THE ORGANIZATION
OBVIOUSLY HAS BEEN PUT IN DISARRAY. THERE’S A LOT OF, A LACK OF
COHESIVENESS BECAUSE THIS ORGANIZATION WAS STRUCTURALLY,
THE SHIP HAS BEEN DESTROYED. I THINK THERE’S A CONCERN THAT
AL QAEDA MAY SEE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRY TO REUNITE
THE GLOBAL TERRORIST MOVEMENT, UNDER AL QAEDA’S LEADERSHIP,
RATHER THAN ISIS. I THINK ALSO ISIS IS REALLY
CONCERNED ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE TO REASSESS THEIR
INTELLIGENT NETWORK SYSTEM BECAUSE IT FAILED, AS A RESULT
OF INFORMATION THAT THE U.S. WAS ABLE TO GET. THEY WERE ABLE TO NOT ONLY
ISOLATE WHERE AL-BAGHDADI WAS LOCATED, BUT THEY WERE ABLE TO
ENTER THE FACILITY AND EVENTUALLY KILL HIM WITH LITTLE
TO NO MILITARY CASUALTIES FOR THE U.S., NOBODY WAS KILLED. I THINK THERE WAS A COUPLE OF
MINOR INJURIES. I THINK ALSO THERE IS CONCERN
THAT THEY HAVE TO, BECAUSE AS A RESULT OF THE ATTACK, THE U.S.
GAINED A LOT OF HIGHLY SENSITIVE INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION. WHICH CAN REALLY DISRUPT FUTURE
PLANS BY ISIS. SO THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE TO NOT
ONLY REVAMP AS FAR AS LEADERSHIP GOES BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF FUTURE
PLANS OF HOW THEY’RE GOING TO CARRY OUT THE SHORT AND
LONG-TERM.>>WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT
AL-BAGHDADI, HE WAS AN ABSOLUTE MONSTER, THE BRUTALITY IS HARD
TO EVEN IMAGINE. THERE’S FOUR OR FIVE AMERICANS
THAT WERE KILLED BY HIM, OBVIOUSLY THOSE FAMILIES HAVE
REACTED. PUBLIC BEHEADINGS, ALL THESE
THINGS UNDER HIS REIGN. THAT’S A MAJOR IMPACT, I WOULD
SAY, IN THE WAR ON ISIS.>>MATTER OF FACT, THE OPERATION
WAS NAMED AFTER ONE OF THE KIDNAPPED PERSONS, KAYLA
MUELLER, WHO WAS KIDNAPPED IN 2013, DIED IN 2015. DURING THE TIME THAT SHE WAS A
PRISONER, IT’S BEEN INDICATED THAT SHE WAS TORTURED AND
ABUSED, PHYSICALLY AND SEXUALLY.>>SO, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE
CALIPHATE, IT ESSENTIALLY HAS BEEN CRIPPLED, RIGHT, BY U.S.
INTERVENTION?>>WELL, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT A
CAL I FATE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF TERRITORY, NOT
NECESSARILY ORGANIZATIONAL INFLUENCE. THE UNITED STATES WENT INTO
SYRIA FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF DESTROYING THE CALIPHATE. WE DID IT IN IRAQ AND EVENTULLY
DID IT IN SYRIA. THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT WE
DESTROYED THE ORGANIZATION. IT STILL HAS JIHADIST FIGHTERS,
BUT THEY’RE NOW UNDERGROUND. I THINK THAT’S ONE OF THE —
EXCUSE ME, THAT’S ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP
HAS USED IN WANTING TO LEAVE SYRIA IS THE FACT THAT THE
INTENDED MIGHTS OF DESTROYING THE CALIPHATE —
>>I KNOW HE’S HAD A LOT OF PUSHBACK, EVEN FROM MEMBERS OF
HIS OWN PARTY WORRIED ABOUT THAT MOVE OF THE PULLBACK.>>YES. YOU’VE GOT TO LOOK AT IT FROM
THE PERSPECTIVE, IT’S REALLY A TWO-EDGED SWORD. THE PRESIDENT FEELS THAT BASED
ON ONE OF HIS CAMPAIGN PLEDGES THAT HE WOULD GET THE U.S. OUT
OF ENDLESS WARS AROUND THE WORLD, ESPECIALLY IN THE MIDDLE
EAST, THAT WE TEND TO GET INTO MISSIONS WITH A GOAL, ONCE THE
GOAL IS REACHED WE STILL STAY. HE WANTED TO AVOID THAT. AND HE FELT THAT NOW WAS THE
TIME. I THINK WHAT’S ACCELERATED THAT
DECISION WAS PROBABLY DISCUSSIONS WITH PRESIDENT
ERDOGAN FROM TURKEY WHERE HE INDICATED HE WAS GOING TO INVADE
SYRIA TO ESTABLISH A SAFE ZONE BETWEEN HIS COUNTRY AND SYRIA. AND THE PRESIDENT FELT THAT HE
JUST DID NOT WANT TO GET AMERICAN SOLDIERS CAUGHT IN THE
MIDDLE OF THAT. SO HE MADE THE DECISION NOT ONLY
TO MOVE TROOPS OUT OF THE NORTHEASTERN PART OF IRAQ,
ESPECIALLY THE SAFETY ZONE AREA, BUT ALSO OUT OF SYRIA AS A
WHOLE. AND I THINK ONCE THE TURKISH
INVASION STARTED, I THINK IT GAVE TRUMP A CHANCE TO REASSESS
THE SITUATION AND REALIZE THAT MAYBE HE DOESN’T WANT TO TAKE
TROOPS OUT OF IRAN TOTALLY, WITH THE END RESULTS, HE HAS REALLY
DONE A RESTRUCTURING, A RELOCATING OF U.S. TROOPS IN
SYRIA. INSTEAD OF BEING MAINLY UP IN
THE NORTHEAST SUPPORTING THE KURDS, HE HAS NOW RELOCATED THEM
OR IN THE PROCESSION OF RELOCATING TOMORROW THE EASTERN
APARTMENT OF SYRIA TO PROTECT THE OIL FIELDS SO THEY DON’T
FALL INTO THE HANDS OF ISIS. AND HE’S ALSO LEFT TROOPS IN
PLACE AT THE FACILITY WHICH IS USED FOR ANTITERRORISM TRAINING.>>LET’S TALK ABOUT THE KURDS,
THOUGH, WHO WEREN’T VERY HELPFUL IN THE PURSUIT OF ISIS. SO WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THEM? AND I KNOW THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF
COMMENTARY ON THAT AS WELL.>>WELL, WHEN TRUMP DECIDED TO
MOVE OUT OF THE NORTHEASTERN PART OF THE COUNTRY, AND THAT’S
WHERE THE KURDS ARE LOCATED, MANY THOUGHT THAT WE WERE
BETRAYING AN ALLY WHO WAS VERY HELPFUL TO US IN DESTROYING THE
CALIPHATE. YOU CAN CERTAINLY MAKE THAT
ARGUMENT. BUT UNITED STATES DID NOT HAVE A
LONG TIE WITH THE KURDS, DIDN’T START UNTIL WE WERE IN NORTHERN
IRAQ, KURDISTAN AND LATER IT GRAVITATED TO SYRIA. BECAUSE WHEN WE DID GO IN TO
FIGHT ISIS, I THINK IT WAS AROUND THE 2014 TIME FRAME, THE
STRONGEST FIGHTERS THAT WE FOUND WERE THE KURDISH. BUT THE PRESENT POSITION IS, YOU
KNOW, WE HAVE HELPED THEM AS FAR AS TRAINING GOES, PROVIDING THEM
WITH MILITARY WEAPONS, IT’S A CONFLICT THAT’S BEEN GOING ON
FOR A LON TIME. HE REALLY FELT THAT NOW WAS THE
TIME TO LEAVE. IT WAS AN UNPOPULAR DECISION,
AND IN SOME CORRIDORS, BUT IT WAS A DECISION THAT HE FELT THE
TIME WAS RIGHT.>>NOW, TURKEY HAS LONG BEEN AN
ALLY IN THE WAR ON TERROR, AND OF COURSE NATO AS WELL. HOW DOES THEIR RELATIONSHIP
CHANGE BETWEEN THE U.S. AND TURKEY, KNOWING THAT TURKEY HAS
RELIED A LITTLE MORE ON RUSSIA AS WELL?>>I THINK THE UNITED STATES, I
THINK THAT’S ANOTHER REASON WHY PRESIDENT TRUMP WANTED TO NOT
GET CAUGHT UP INTO THAT CONFLICT OR THE INVASION FROM TURKEY,
SIMPLY BECAUSE TURKEY WAS A NATO MEMBER. AND I THINK THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND TURKEY IS REALLY STRAINED RIGHT
NOW. NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE INVASION
AND THE SEVERITY OF THE INVASION, ESPECIALLY TOWARDS THE
TURKS, BUT ALSO BECAUSE PRESIDENT ERDOGAN FROM TURKEY
SEEMS TO BE BURNING BOTH ENDS OF THE CANDLE. HE WANTS TO MAINTAIN RELATIONS
WITH THE UNITED STATES AND ALSO NATO BUT AT THE SAME TIME HE IS
DEVELOPING RELATIVELY STRONG TIES WITH RUSSIA. JUST RECENTLY, INSTEAD OF BUYING
U.S. PATRIOT MISSILES, ERDOGAN DECIDED TO BUY A SOVIET S400
AIRCRAFT, AIR DEFENSE WEAPONS, RATHER THAN THE U.S. WEAPONS. HE ALSO HAS TURNED TOWARDS
RUSSIA AS FAR AS THE LATEST CEASE-FIRE THAT THEY HAD, WHICH
ENDED THIS PAST TUESDAY, THAT HOPEFULLY WILL HELP CREATE THAT
SAFETY ZONE THAT THE RUSSIANS AND TURKS ARE GOING TO PATROL
TOGETHER. AND SO THERE’S REALLY A
REASSESSMENT AS TO WHERE DO THE LOYALTIES OF TURKEY LIE. IN THE PAST IT’S BEEN TOWARDS
NATO. BUT MORE RECENTLY IT SEEMS TO BE
LEANING MORE AND MORE TOWARDS RUSSIA.