By BB Portnoy
Russia and Iran have “outsmarted” the United States in the Middle East during President Barack Obama’s time in office, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed in Wednesday night’s presidential debate against his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
According to Trump, the “big winner” of the new Iraqi government’s ongoing offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul from ISIS would be Iran.
“Iran should write us yet another letter saying thank you very much because Iran as I said many years ago Iran is taking over Iraq,” Trump said at the third and final debate of the 2016 presidential election. “Something they wanted to do forever but we made it so easy for them. So we’re now going to take Mosul and you knows who is going to be the beneficiary? Iran.”
Referring to the withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq while Clinton was secretary of state, Trump said, “You were there when you took everybody out of Mosul and out of Iraq. We shouldn’t have been in Iraq, but you did vote for it. You shouldn’t have been in Iraq, but once you’re in Iraq you should have never left that way.”
Clinton, for her part, said she was “encouraged” by the US-backed effort to liberate Mosul from ISIS.
“It is going to be a hard fight,” she said. “I’ve got no illusions about that. And then continue to press into Syria to begin to take back and move on Raqqa, which is the ISIS headquarters.”
“I am hopeful that the hard work that American military advisers have done will pay off and that we will see a really successful military operation,” she continued. “But we know we’ve got lots of work to do. Syria will remain a hotbed of terrorism as long as the civil war aided and abetted by the Iranians and Russians continues. So I have said, look, we need to keep our eye on ISIS.”
Regarding the ongoing civil war in Syria, Clinton advocated for the creation of a no-fly zone and safe havens. Asked by the debate moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, whether the establishment of a no-fly zone could lead to military confrontation between the US on one side and the Assad regime and Russia on the other, Clinton replied, “I am well aware of the really legitimate concerns that you have expressed…This would not be done just on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation.”
Trump called the notion Clinton could defeat ISIS “ridiculous.” He also asserted that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad was “much tougher and much smarter” than Clinton and Obama.
“Nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is,” he said.
Israel went unmentioned by both candidates during the hour and a half debate.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal