- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Iraq’s prime minister complained Monday that the international community has left his nation largely in the lurch against the extremist Islamic State movement, even as U.S. and European officials scrambled to revamp their strategy for countering Mideast-based jihadis following this month’s Paris terrorist attacks.

“We are in this almost on our own,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said of the war with the group also known as ISIS and ISIL. “There is a lot being said and spoken, but very little on the ground.”

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, meanwhile, called for patience Wednesday in the overall fight against Islamic extremists and insisted that international efforts are gaining steam.

“We’re seeing countries come together,” Mr. Kerry told reporters in Washington. “We’re seeing countries ramp up their commitments and, as President Obama has said from the very beginning, this isn’t going to happen overnight.”

Mr. al-Abadi, who was elected president in August, praised bombing raids being carried out against Islamic State by a U.S.-led coalition of air forces. But, in an interview with The Associated Press, he said the international community has stalled on commitments to train and equip Iraqi ground forces needed to retake major cities held by the extremist group.

“We want to see an acceleration of the training, acceleration of the delivery of arms,” the Iraqi prime minister said. He reiterated that Iraq does not want any foreign soldiers on the ground, but said it needs “support and logistics.”

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He is expected to press the case during a meeting Thursday in London Thursday of some 20 nations participating in the anti-Islamic State coalition, it remains to be seen how the West will respond. European leaders in particular have appeared less concerned by the campaign in Iraq than by their own domestic counterterrorism priorities.

In France, authorities are focused on the potential threat posed by French-born jihadis with ties to the Islamic State — or to the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday that the nation is ramping up surveillance on some 3,000 people believed to be involved in “terrorist networks.”

The French government will create 2,680 new positions and spend nearly $500 million boost on the effort, according to Agence France-Presse. Mr. Valls said part of the effort will be the recruitment of dozens of moderate Muslim clerics to work in French prisons where three of the Paris attackers are believed to have been radicalized.

The attacks, which left 17 people dead, triggered unease among counterterrorism officials across Western Europe, where a wave of police raids, investigations have been carried out over the past two weeks.

The raids follow months of warnings from intelligence officials about the threat of blowback terrorism from thousands of European-born fighters who have joined the Islamic State movement in Syria and Iraq.

While the threat motivated increased European support for the anti-Islamic State coalition last year, the fact that a Yemen-based group — not the Islamic State — claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks has added new complexity to the problem.

Challenges facing the strategy have only grown more difficult amid a surge of violence by Shiite Muslim militants in Yemen, a strategically positioned Persian Gulf nation, whose southern reaches have for years been a home base of the Sunni Muslim extremist AQAP.

Mr. Kerry cautioned against reading the fast-moving Yemen developments as an indication that Washington and its allies are failing in the wider fight.

“I know to many people when you see Yemen [or] some other issue suddenly explode on television and otherwise, people wonder,” he said Wednesday. “But the fact is, there is slow and steady progress in very difficult circumstances and a clarity of commitment … that has not always been there.”

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