CIA Director John Brennan said Sunday that the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will be “a long fight” that requires both a military and political solution.
“I don’t see this being resolved anytime soon,” Brennan said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We need to turn back ISIS. We will turn back ISIS, I have no doubt about it, but I think there’s going to be unfortunately a lot of bloodshed between now and then.”
The militant group has made gains in recent weeks, capturing the cities of Ramadiin Iraq and Palmyra in Syria. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been critical of the Iraqi troops that are fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq, saying last week they lost Ramadi because they “just showed no will to fight.”
Brennan disputed the idea that the U.S. intelligence community has been surprised by ISIS’ strength, saying he reviewed the intelligence last week and that, “we saw a growing strength.”
“There are a lot of factors that come to play in terms of what gains they’re able to make on the ground and as has been discussed, sometimes there are different Iraqi units that either don’t have the leadership, the logistic support that they need in order to counter ISIS. And therefore it’s looked at as a lack of a will to fight. But I must say that there has been a fair amount of intelligence about the growing capabilities of ISIS as well as the challenges that beset the Iraqi government, the sectarian tensions that continue to fuel a lot of these problems,” he said.
Brennan said that a long-term solution to ISIS’ rise in the Middle East is going to require a political solution.
“I believe firmly that we’re not going to resolve this problem on the battlefield. We have to keep the pressure on them but at the same time there has to be a viable political process that’s able to bring together the actors inside Iraq and Syria and for them to be able to decide how they’re going to have a peaceful future,” he said.
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