Home Braking News Donald Trump claims a big win for death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Donald Trump claims a big win for death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi


Even by the standards of this unconventional, chaotic White House, the announcement of the killing of Islamic State terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was certainly one to remember.

Donald Trump previewed it in a taunting Saturday night tweet to ensure he’d captured the entire world’s attention.

“Something very big has just happened!” he exclaimed.

Where past US presidents would have been satisfied that a succinct, nationally televised Sunday morning statement would highlight the seriousness of the situation, this Commander-in-Chief rambled at length.

He used boastful, inflammatory language, describing the Islamic State leader’s followers as “losers” and “frightened puppies”.

“He died like a dog,” the President said, before talking about how Baghdadi’s body was mutilated by his suicide vest.

“He died like a coward,” he added.

On a couple of occasions, Mr Trump promoted his own role, stepped reporters through details of the operation and thanked Russia for its help.

He even suggested the death of Baghdadi is a bigger deal for the United States than the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

It is not. 9/11 holds a bigger place in the American psyche than any Islamic State atrocity.

But Mr Trump’s early-morning antics will eventually blend into the background because, by any measure, this is a big moment for the President.

Expect Trump to turn the moment into campaign fuel

The killing of one of the world’s most wanted men is arguably one of the top foreign policy achievements of his time in office.

It’s also easy to explain and understand.

At campaign rallies over the next 12 months leading up to the Presidential election, you can imagine Mr Trump rhetorically asking cheering crowds over and over again:

You know the guy that inspired those terrorist attacks in Europe and those brutal executions that were filmed and broadcast?

Well, we got him. I made sure we got him.

Expect this photo, which the White House says was taken in the situation room, to be wheeled out again and again on the 2020 trail.

The move’s timing is key

The successful operation also comes at a politically convenient time for Mr Trump.

He not only faces the growing threat of impeachment for asking Ukraine to investigate one of his leading domestic political rivals, but he has also been grappling with vocal bi-partisan opposition in Washington to his decision to pull US troops out of northern Syria.

That move allowed Turkey to target the Kurds, America’s allies.

At least for now, this killing has quietened some critics.

For example, even Republican senator Mitt Romney thanked the President in a tweet.

At a minimum, it might help him win over right-wing politicians, who wanted US troops to stay put in Syria for the foreseeable future.

Pundits are already pointing to past presidential precedents

In the deeply polarised world of US cable news, there was immediate, intense speculation about what it all might mean for the President’s polling numbers.

A recent CNN poll found three-quarters of Americans were concerned over the situation in Syria, with 69 per cent fearing the resurgence of IS.

Comparisons are being drawn to Barack Obama’s brief bump in support following the death of bin Laden, and the reaction to George W Bush’s “mission accomplished” speech on board USS Abraham Lincoln.

And, on a lighter note, a few have been dredging up old, contradictory statements like this:

But, of course, that domestic American discussion ignores the bigger global question.

What does Baghdadi’s death mean for the Islamic State terrorist group and the Middle East?

Questions remain about the future of IS

In many ways, this successful raid highlights the benefit of having a highly skilled military presence in parts of Syria and Iraq, capable of keeping pressure on terrorist networks.

Counterterrorism experts have long warned eliminating a group’s leader does not destroy its threat.

Al Qaeda, for example, kept operating after the death of bin Laden.

With this killing, will US attention turn elsewhere allowing Islamic State to regroup and rebuild?

If it does make a resurgence, Mr Trump’s boastful, morning victory lap will not age well.

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