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21 Mar, 2016 11:21

‘US no longer talking about Assad regime, focus now on ISIS’

‘US no longer talking about Assad regime, focus now on ISIS’

Americans have shifted their attention away from the Assad regime to tackling ISIS, said former CIA officer Jack Rice. Washington is also feeling the pressure from Europe, which is suffering from the number of refugees arriving, he added.

The US is reportedly boosting its presence in the Middle East. Washington sent Marines to Iraq to tackle ISIS fighters on the ground. They will join the 3,600 American personnel already there.

RT: The US has reportedly sent Marines to join the fight against jihadists. Why now?

Jack Rice: That is not really a shock, when we see what has been going on now. This isn’t the first group that is in there. We need to contemplate JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), some of the other special operations that are working alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga and some of the other groups that are in there. But I think the real purpose is that the US has been ramping up politically to justify this, and they are certainly justifying it within the US for their citizenry to put more boots on the ground.

RT: This news comes after an American soldier was killed by ISIL on Saturday at a base, which its existence was reportedly kept hidden from the public. How was it that ISIL found out?

JR: Well, they are on the ground – that is the point. The US gets very little information right now on what is going on inside. They simply aren’t seeing what they were seeing in Iraq, what they were seeing in Afghanistan. But part of the reason is that ISIL has been so successful in many, many ways at working what they have been doing, and frankly, because the media is so concerned about security in the region themselves, that there aren’t very many people of that ilk on the ground there either. So that is the part of the problem. 

RT:The US President previously said on multiple occasions that there will be no boots on the ground in Iraq. Why the shift in strategy?

JR: This is fundamental. There was a time when what we talked about within the US was the Assad regime. We are not talking about the Assad regime anymore. That is, I don’t want to say inconsequential, but it is secondary. What everybody is talking about is ISIL/ISIS/DAESH – whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day, what we have found is that it’s the focus now, and the willingness of the US to step up alongside the Europeans, to some degree, but more importantly alongside the Iraqis and the Kurds – is something the US seems to be willing to do now, and they are willing to do it with some gusto. One last point: part of it is the pressure of a lot of refugees, by the millions rolling into Europe. So the Europeans are now standing behind this drive, which is pushing it forwards even further.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.