Post-ISIS, our allies are turning guns on each other


One might expect President 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 US special operators, this caliphate ended as the shortest-lived in Islamic history.

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 phonecall 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. Even the United States and Iran could cooperate (tacitly) against an outfit that operated sex-slave markets and attempted genocide.

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.

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