US plans to take Raqqa with Kurdish allies

Foreign Policy:
he Trump administration is ready to press ahead with a U.S.-backed military offensive to evict the Islamic State from its last remaining urban stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa over strong objections from Turkey.

President Donald Trump is expected to inform his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of the U.S. plans when he visits the White House later this month.

The long-delayed operation, based on an Obama administration-drafted plan that gives a leading role to Kurdish forces in the operation, will likely move forward in earnest after Erdogan’s visit, defense officials told Foreign Policy.

U.S. Central Command has sent a request to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to authorize arming Syrian Kurdish forces for the Raqqa offensive, several officials said. Once Mattis signs off on the request, President Trump must give the plan his blessing to clear the way for the offensive. Officials and experts said Trump will almost certainly approve the plan put forward by commanders.

The offensive will depend on a mixed force of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by U.S. air power and artillery. Trump inherited the blueprint for pushing the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, out of Raqqa from the prior administration. The Obama team had concluded that the Syrian Kurdish troops represented the only viable force on the ground that could capture Raqqa without resorting to deploying a large number of U.S. conventional troops. Turkey vehemently opposes the idea of Kurdish fighters liberating an Arab city, however.
The Turks have been lousy allies for some time and their military has been hurt by Erdogan's purges of officers.  The Kurds are more reliable at this point.

I doubt that the Obama administration thought up this plan of attack.  I am sure it was devised by the military and approved by the administration in much the same way as the Trump administration is now approving it.  If Obama's band of amateurs devised the plan, I suspect it was significantly improved by input from the Joint Chiefs and military planners.


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