Opinion

Trump’s Mideast shake-up led to killing of al-Baghdadi

The raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a major turning point in Trump’s presidency, and it’s a crying shame he can’t seem to get an iota of credit for it from his political opponents.

U.S. President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in the White House Situation Room monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist, Oct. 26, 2019. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in the White House Situation Room monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist, Oct. 26, 2019. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
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Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.

One of U.S. President Donald Trump’s greatest accomplishments (and he has quite a few already) is the exquisitely planned and executed raid on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in northern Syria. The president deserves very special thanks and credit, not just from Republicans but from Democrats as well.

When U.S. Navy SEALs took out Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, I did not hesitate to give credit to former President Barack Obama. Indeed, it used to be commonplace in America to give credit where credit was due, party affiliation notwithstanding. That’s the America I remember.

Instead, in this polarized, overheated, partisan environment, during the same week the president should have been getting kudos and compliments, he instead received his impeachment “papers.” It’s more than ironic; it’s sad and disturbing that we have stooped this low. This is not the America I grew up in, and it is not the America many Americans want.

We are much bigger and better than this. We are a proud nation, and we should celebrate our successes together as one. This was a week when America should have cheered and applauded the president, not proceeded with a doom-and-gloom impeachment process.

As it turns out, the killing of both Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his heir apparent, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, was a direct result of Trump’s shake-up of the pre-existing order in northern Syria and northern Iraq. While it should be obvious, it bears repeating: the media and the American people are not privy to the vast trove of intelligence the commander in chief has at his fingertips. This is particularly important in the complex and multidimensional Middle East, where alliances and verbal agreements are the rule, rather than the exception.

We think in black-and-white terms, but the truth is often closer to gray and white, or black and gray. I have many theories as to just how our U.S. special forces pulled off this miraculous assault against the No. 1 terrorist in the world, but overall, I would venture that what it boils down to is that the president caught al-Baghdadi off-guard.

Al-Baghdadi was no doubt celebrating America’s pullout from the region and got careless. Essentially, it flushed him out into the open. He was planning a new barrage of terror, especially against the Kurds and Yazidis. What he was not prepared for was the determination and steadfastness of Trump. He miscalculated regarding our president and suffered the consequences.

By taking out al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir, Trump has now sent the clearest message yet to all of our enemies, including Iran and North Korea, that he means business. This was and is a major turning point in his presidency, and it is a crying shame that he can’t seem to get one iota of credit for it from his political opponents.

In the final analysis, the American people will ultimately decide how much credit to give him. I am a firm believer they will be much kinder and wiser judging his record in hindsight.

Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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