Trump Claims in ‘One Week’ He Will Announce the End of the Islamic State Group

The president of the United States insists that the caliphate has been decimated and confesses that “nobody thought it was possible to do it this quickly.”

Just to be cautious, the U.S. president said on Wednesday, Feb. 6, that he should not make the announcement official but that he could guarantee that within a period of “one week,” the few remaining strongholds of the Islamic State will have been deleted from the map. “The ISIS caliphate has been decimated,” said the president, who added in a satisfied way, “Nobody thought it was possible to do it this quickly.”

Donald Trump thus addressed nearly 80 senior officials from 75 countries and four international organizations (including the European Union, Interpol and NATO), meeting in Washington this Wednesday at a coalition summit against the Islamic State group in which there has been debate on how to advance in the counterterrorist fight against the jihadi group. The theme of the meeting itself hasn’t received much coverage because “probably next week,” in the words of the president, the U.S. may announce that it will “have 100 percent of the caliphate.”

Nevertheless, Trump had to reassure his guests, so he finished his speech by assuring them that it has been “an honor” to work with all those present in the State Department auditorium. They would continue to do so, he said, “because unfortunately … as brilliant as our military is, knocking out the big, big sections, they’ll have tiny sections. It can be so dangerous.”

This Wednesday’s report on the meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, a group that was founded in 2014 to fight the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, is a chronicle of uncertainty. It is difficult to believe the president and his deadlines, but the meeting also added an element of contradiction after statements made in the same forum early in the morning by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that Washington would remain committed to the permanent destruction of the Islamic State group.

The data do not support Trump’s self-proclaimed success. The analysis of a report made public this week by CNN citing the inspector general’s office at the Defense Department, directly clashes with the arguments Trump presented on Wednesday and last December. A report from the inspector general’s office explicitly affirms that the Islamic State group could carry out “opportunistic” attacks against U.S. troops in a retaliatory move that it could claim as a “victory.”

In the days before Christmas, the president announced, unexpectedly and without the support of former Defense Secretary James Mattis (who resigned), that the 2,000 American soldiers stationed in Syria were going to be withdrawn, and insisted that the jihadi group had been defeated. At first Trump announced that the exit would be immediate. Then he qualified his announcement by saying withdrawal would be gradual. But he never put concrete deadlines on the table, something very necessary to guarantee the success of troop withdrawal in a conflict zone.

“The United States military, our Coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” Trump stressed to the State Department on Wednesday. “Remnants — that’s all they have, remnants. But remnants can be very dangerous,” he said repeatedly about the current presence of the Islamic State group in Syria. “Rest assured, we will do what it takes to defeat every ounce and every last person within the ISIS madness, and defend our people from radical Islamic terrorism.”

Without a clear narrative, Pompeo was forced the next morning to speak of an order and something that he defined, even, as “a tactical change.” “It is not a change in the mission,” he said. “It simply represents a new stage in an old fight,” Pompeo affirmed, as he appealed for help from other allies to fulfill an unwavering mission. The chief American diplomat guaranteed that military withdrawal in Syria will not mean “the end of America’s fight” against the terrorist group. “We will continue to wage [war] alongside of you,” he said in the inaugural speech at the summit against the Islamic State group before foreign ministers and other diplomats. On the Spanish side, the delegation was headed by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Fernando Martín Valenzuela, who said at a press conference that the Islamic State group has not disappeared nor will it do so overnight, as Trump seems to want.

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