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Iraq: We can defeat ISIS

September 9th, 2014
03:11 PM ET

Click here to watch Amanpour's full interview with Zebari.

By Mick Krever, CNN

On the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech outlining the American strategy against ISIS, and after the formation of a new government that was like a “caesarean operation,” Iraq’s new deputy Prime Minister said that ISIS in Iraq could be defeated.

“I think they are on the run, on the defensive. And with the increased international support coming … I think they would be defeated, at least here in Iraq. We have every confidence,” Hoshyar Zebari, who was long the Iraqi foreign minister, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Zebari hailed the formation of a new government – a “big, big challenge” – but some are skeptical whether the leadership is renewed or simply reshuffled.

“We all agree that this government has to be different from the previous government – in its leadership, in its faces, in its composition, and its representation.”

But Nuri al-Maliki – who was just forced to resign as prime minister for his divisive policies and whom many blame at least in part for the rise of ISIS – is back as one of the country’s three vice presidents.

And the prime minister himself, Haider al-Abadi, though relatively unknown, is like al-Maliki a Shiite and hails from the Dawa party.

“Why,” Amanpour asked, “should anybody have any confidence with the same old faces?”

“Yes, well, we’ve changed places, as you know,” Zebari said. “The idea was to bring older Iraqi key leaders and faces together to give weight to this new government, to the new prime minster, Dr. Haider Abadi, and to work together.”

“Everybody is happy that we made it and defied all the critics. And now we have the tools to fight ISIS, jointly and collectively, and we have a common enemy now in order to work together and hold, bring the country together in this fight.”

“Ironically,” he said, ISIS came to tear Iraq apart but has instead united it; with a new enemy, ISIS, the government has focus.

“The main fight has to be done by us, by the Iraqis. This is our fight. But as you know, this fight has regional, international dimensions.”

While ISIS controls territory only in Iraq and Syria, the international community must help stem money and recruits flowing into the battle.

“And I think the key issue would be to rely on local Iraqis in those areas where ISIS is in control, specifically in Sunni areas … for them really to push ISIS away from the neighborhood, away from cities.”

President Obama has long been wary of becoming entangled in the war in Syria, but many security analysts and diplomats say that it will be impossible to defeat ISIS without addressing ISIS’s Syria stronghold.

“They have some of their main assets and command and control and leadership inside Syria, so I would not discount if they would be targeted too.”

“Airstrikes have been very, very effective. They have disoriented them. They have led to lack of command and control among themselves. They cannot mass large troops. They are nervous when they feel that there is a plane overlooking them in the Syria.”

“All these added to their demoralizations. So I personally would not discount some attacks or some measures inside Syria at the same time.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. REYT

    DENOUNCIA A LA PUTA PERRA LADRONA BARAK OBAMAMICHELL, POR VIOLACIONES DE MUJERES, ROBO NEURO ESPIONAJE Y CONTRATO DE ESPIAS EN VENEZUELA CON TECNOLOGIAS CHINAS.

    September 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  2. REYT

    PAGINA ADN POLITICO.
    VERSION WASHINTONG PROJECT.

    September 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  3. REYT

    PAGE:cvpg.tumblr.com

    September 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  4. victorlinar@Yahoo.com

    Defeatr ISIS and what ... you have Al Queda, hamas, talibanes, lols Hermanos mujsulmanes en Egipto, Yihadista and Somalita you have you have Hezbollah etc. this is no end., too mucha hate of the Mulims, hate, hate, I wonder if the Islam is from God, or the Devil.

    September 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Nicolas

      I agree that all the organizations that you mentioned, are terrorist org, and should be deat with.
      BUT hizbullah is not, I am a Christian from Lebanon, "The only country in the middle east that have a Christian president", but the fact that hizbullah fights Israel doesn't make them a terror organization. they never killed in the name of religion, and we live equaly with them, they are never a threat to our social security, on the opposite, they respect how we live, we party we drink we live just like any other free country. I do understand your ignorance about my country, we are only a small detail in all what is happening, but I am scared just like you of having jihadists in my town or city, but read a little more that hizbullah is fighting ISIS on our borders and inside Syria, and they are doing a very good job, so many of them died, to keep my freedom going. just wanted to clarify that.

      September 10, 2014 at 9:03 am | Reply
  5. Lord Truth

    I watched your programme just now with your interview with the new Iraq Deputy Prime Minister. Once again I was struck by the charade of these interviews .How ceaselessly they are about governments and political maneuvering...Never never do they ask the real questions that people want to know..what is the educational system doing in Iraq..what percentage of children go to school ,is it free, what about healthcare is it free what about mothers and baby care etc
    Cleverly CNN avoids these areas probably because the answers would be too unpleasant..the political problems are merely the shuffling s of one group of warlords with another...
    CNN is of course now blatant in its ceaseless promotion of this capitalist view...Someone ..it may have been you said that the world economy was going to grow at only three percent a year from now on and they were concerned at this ;ow figure...But of course that left out Communist China which even with or withou a downturn etc is still growing at least 7% a year.
    Despite all the talk of billionaires and Rolls Royce cars on the streets etc China is still a very Communist Command Economy the most successful in the world..Couldnt you ask questions about this and suggest that some kind of socialism might be a good thing for the world? ..Of course you cant... CNN represents American capitalism and must ceaselessly promote it..but I must tell you that what is presented is looking increasingly threadbare..The presenters are quite presentable and attractive yet this only makes the emptiness of what they are trying to sell more rubbishy..
    And incidentally ,there is a lot of talk about how to defeat the CIA created ISIS terrorists..in fact you can only defeat one ideology by another....and the west offering so called free elections in which as I have stated ,two rich corrupt warlords challenge each other is no such thing..CNN is sadly even to the most dimwitted ,now merely the worst kind of American propagandist trash

    September 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Wonderful response. Asking the right metrics for progress is beyond our Hollywood media. Iraq cannot defeat ISIS because they have no moral foundation to do so. They do not value freedom, they do not value a cause greater than themselves. Time and time again the Iraq military has demonstrated cowardice in the face of the slightest problem.

      September 10, 2014 at 8:16 am | Reply
    • Greg

      Islam represents terrorism and Muslims like you ceaselessly promote it.

      September 10, 2014 at 8:46 am | Reply
  6. StanCalif

    So our President is going to address the nation about strategies to deal with ISIS. He has already "consulted" with Congressional members. So he goes on national (and international) media to lay out the "plan". The Congressional members who were briefed will also go on the media to blab about everything they were told. What a stupid idea!
    ISIS and Putin will be watching this speech very carefully. Before any "international" combat forces (of non-Americans) can be assembled, ISiIS will have had time to prepare for whatever is being planned. Since Putin is really our bigger enemy today, he will have shipped his BUK missile system to ISIS to take out any proposed American air strikes. Putin is a much bigger threat than ISIS! He operates completely covertly, denies everything he is doing, yet he continues to organize confusion and strong military reaction to anything thrown his way.
    Putin is Assad's best friend. Who do you think supplies Assad with barrel bombs and cylinders of chlorine gas? Chlorine gas is a "humanitarian" chemical to be used to purify water, but also works very well as a "WMD"!
    Pay attention to Putin!!! ISIS is very small fry in comparison.

    September 9, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • antano1970

      Thank goodness they are back from their 5 week respite so they can make critical decisions about this problem.

      September 10, 2014 at 8:45 am | Reply
  7. StanCalif

    So Iraq has a "new" government. The same old people sitting in different chairs. Nothing changed!

    September 10, 2014 at 7:15 am | Reply
  8. Coolergw

    America! Don't let the media get us into a war we cannot win. The people in the Middle East are the only ones who can rise up and defeat this kind of madness! I'm sorry about the two reporters who lost their lives.... But that was the choice they made! No one forced them over there! All hell is about to break loose for all our sons and daughters! I bet not one of the crazy people in congress are willing to send their sons and daughters into arms way! Don't fall for this madness!

    September 10, 2014 at 7:23 am | Reply
    • Steve

      I sort of agree – I don't understand why ISIS is our problem, why the Iraqi's can't handle this on their own, here we are going to come in and clean up their country once again. I any case – Iraq should be paying though the nose on this one, I want 89 cent a gallon gas back you know what I am saying? I really don't believe ISIS is a threat to the Continental US, make them prove that first.
      I disagree about not winning though, if we go in we need to have one goal – wipe ISIS from the face of the earth, do not allow them to hide anywhere, where ever they are go in and get them, and if that nation has an issue with it – let them know they are either willing to help or they are part of the problem. We need to reaffirm the idea – you don't mess with the US – and live to tell the story.

      I also feel sorry for the families of the reporters that died on the other hand, I would not go to Syria, and if I did I'd know I am putting my life in the hands of people that'd rather see me dead than alive.

      September 10, 2014 at 7:43 am | Reply
  9. joe d

    we will never win anything in the mideast as long as Israel and AIPAC dictate U.S. and U.K. foriegn policy..
    wake up Americans..kick the neocons to the curb..
    look up Office Of Special Plans and see how you were suckered into both Iraq wars....

    September 10, 2014 at 7:31 am | Reply
  10. Jimmy Jenga

    Remember "debathification", when the bath party sunnis were purged from the Iraqi military. Well they found a new home. Good job, George.

    September 10, 2014 at 8:17 am | Reply
    • Greg

      Sunni Muslims are terrorists, they would have always found a reason to terrorize others. ISIS is Sunni Muslim, Al Qaeda is Sunni Muslim, Taliban is Sunni Muslim, Boko Haram is Sunni Muslim, Hamas is Sunni Muslim, Al Shabab is Sunni Muslim. Almost all terrorists are Sunni Muslims.

      September 10, 2014 at 8:50 am | Reply
  11. antano1970

    Get rid of each other so we don't have to deal with you anymore.
    To all journalists with too much ambition for their own good: do you like your head? thought so...stay away from that stupid sandlot.

    September 10, 2014 at 8:36 am | Reply
  12. Tone

    antano1970

    Get rid of each other so we don't have to deal with you anymore.
    To all journalists with too much ambition for their own good: do you like your head? thought so...stay away from that stupid sandlot.

    Spot on man, my problem is the deafening silence of the Muslin community.

    September 10, 2014 at 9:06 am | Reply
  13. Randy

    The guy sitting in that plane hell it dont even looks like it would fly

    September 10, 2014 at 9:43 am | Reply
  14. Paddy Singh

    Iraq is a failed state and the Kurds recognise that. They will part with the country and there is no way that the Sunnis will be p[art of Iraq any more. Either it will be Sunni Iraq, another country or will be Isis run. If Obama had the guts to blame the previous leaders for the chaos caused in the Middle East, it would change things immensely. But then after that yell of' we want change', he has been a lame duck President just months after election

    September 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  15. Lord Michael

    A Muslim is required to believe that God chose
    the finest among humanity to be Messengers
    whom He sent to His creation with specific
    legislation's: to worship and obey Him and to
    establish His religion and His Oneness. God, the
    Almighty, says: And We did not send any Messenger before
    you O Muhammad but We inspired him
    [saying]: none has the right to be worshiped
    but God, so worship Me (Alone and none
    else). [21:25]

    Question: What's the Difference Between Shia and Sunni Muslims?

    Answer: Both Sunni and Shia Muslims share the most fundamental Islamic beliefs and articles of faith. The differences between these two main sub-groups within Islam initially stemmed not from spiritual differences, but political ones. Over the centuries, however, these political differences have spawned a number of varying practices and positions which have come to carry a spiritual significance.

    Origins – A Question of Leadership

    The division between Shia and Sunni dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and the question of who was to take over the leadership of the Muslim nation. Sunni Muslims agree with the position taken by many of the Prophet's companions, that the new leader should be elected from among those capable of the job. This is what was done, and the Prophet Muhammad's close friend and advisor, Abu Bakr, became the first Caliph of the Islamic nation. The word "Sunni" in Arabic comes from a word meaning "one who follows the traditions of the Prophet."

    On the other hand, Shia share the belief that leadership should have stayed within the Prophet's own family, among those specifically appointed by him, or among Imams appointed by God Himself.

    The Shia Muslims believe that following the Prophet Muhammad's death, leadership should have passed directly to his cousin/son-in-law, Ali bin Abu Talib. Throughout history, Shia Muslims have not recognized the authority of elected Muslim leaders, choosing instead to follow a line of Imams which they believe have been appointed by the Prophet Muhammad or God Himself. The word "Shia" in Arabic means a group or supportive party of people. The commonly-known term is shortened from the historical "Shia-t-Ali," or "the Party of Ali." They are also known as followers of "Ahl-al-Bayt" or "People of the Household" (of the Prophet).

    Sunni Muslims make up the majority (85%) of Muslims all over the world. Significant populations of Shia Muslims can be found in Iran and Iraq, and large minority communities in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Lebanon.

    From this initial question of political leadership, some aspects of spiritual life have been affected and now differ between the two groups of Muslims.

    It is important to remember that despite these differences in opinion and practice, Shia and Sunni Muslims share the main articles of Islamic belief and are considered by most to be brethren in faith. In fact, most Muslims do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group, but prefer to call themselves simply, "Muslims."

    Shia Muslims believe that the Imam is sinless by nature, and that his authority is infallible as it comes directly from God. Therefore, Shia Muslims often venerate the Imams as saints and perform pilgrimages to their tombs and shrines in the hopes of divine intercession.

    Sunni Muslims counter that there is no basis in Islam for a hereditary privileged class of spiritual leaders, and certainly no basis for the veneration or intercession of saints. Sunni Muslims contend that leadership of the community is not a birthright, but a trust that is earned and which may be given or taken away by the people themselves.

    Shia Muslims also feel animosity towards some of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, based on their positions and actions during the early years of discord about leadership in the community. Many of these companions ( Abu Bakr , Umar ibn Al Khattab , Aisha, etc.) have narrated traditions about the Prophet's life and spiritual practice. Shia Muslims reject these traditions ( hadith ) and do not base any of their religious practices on the testimony of these individuals. This naturally gives rise to some differences in religious practice between the two groups. These differences touch all detailed aspects of religious life: prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, etc.

    September 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Reply

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