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The Next President Inherits A Middle East In Flames


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s recent worldwide threat assessment describes the United States as facing more foreign policy threats than at any time since World War II.

For the last several weeks, my Twitter feed has been consumed with Trump-mania. What he said, what he didn’t, who incited whom to what. Who can beat him? Can he beat Hillary? Is this the end of the GOP?

While these are all important and necessary analyses of this disaster of a primary season, there are, in fact, other things going on in the world—especially in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s essential to stay abreast of these current affairs because our next president will have to confront them come January, making this election all the more important. So, let’s survey the current state of disrepair in the region.

Turkey Tightens the Screws

On Sunday night, a car bomb devastated the business district of Ankara. This is the second time in the last month that an attack like this has struck the city. No group has yet claimed responsibility, but Turkish officials suspect Kurdish separatists. ISIS has also been responsible for attacks in recent months. At least 37 are dead and over 100 wounded as a result of Sunday’s attacks. This puts the tally to nine attacks, with more than 200 dead, in the past nine months.

This most recent round of violence escalates already mounting tensions between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Turkey has called on the United States to end cooperation with the Syrian Kurdish force, one of our better ground partners in the fight against ISIS. Meanwhile, the Turkish government began bombing the Kurds in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey last month, and attacked again on Monday in reaction to the Ankara bombing. Both Turkey and the Kurds are vital partners in fighting ISIS, leaving the U.S. without any good options.

Libya and Tunisia Foster ISIS

In the years since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted, a power vacuum has allowed ISIS to take root in Libya and given it easy access to its neighbor to the west, Tunisia. ISIS operatives based in Libya were responsible for the March 2015 attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis that left 19 dead, and the June 2015 attacks on the Sousse beach in Tunisia that killed 39.

On March 7, weeks after the United States targeted an ISIS training camp in northeast Libya, ISIS attacked the Tunisian city of Ben Gardane, after which Tunisia closed its borders with Libya. Meanwhile, Tunisia is the largest supplier of foreign-born ISIS fighters (7,000). All this bodes extremely ill for both countries.

President Obama strongly criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron and former French President Nicholas Sarkozy last week for not following through in Libya after the ouster of Gaddafi. He called it a “s— show.” Britain is now pledging 1,000 soldiers to join an international coalition of 6,000 troops to protect the new Libyan government. Meanwhile, just last month Obama turned down a proposal by the U.S. military to hit ISIS in its Libyan regional stronghold of Sirte. He’s talking the talk, but, well, you get it.

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