In Rudaw 

Iraqi VP: US needs to step it up amid international power vacuum

Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi said that the United States has abandoned its traditional global leadership role.

“There is a vacuum in the overall leadership in the world,” Allawi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired on Friday. “The Americans need to get back to their role as an international power, an important international power.”

The rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria three years ago has caused major instability in the region, but with support from Iranian backed paramilitaries and the US-led coalition in fighting the militant group, ISIS has almost been wiped out in Iraq.

Despite the military victory, Allawi stated that the US did not have a broader strategy for battling extremism. He said the US was “absent” and lacked “clear cut policies.”

“To me, there is no international strategy – no strategy for the alliances that are fighting and have helped us in this part of the fight,” he said.

US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, speaking in Washington on Wednesday, had insisted that the US strategy is working well within the region.

“We are being successful with our partners in Syria. We are being successful with our Iraqi partners,” he said, noting, “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

But Allawi believes that the US has abandoned its global leadership role.

“There is no clear-cut policies where to go and what to do,” Allawi said.

“Even for Iraq, it’s still premature. I think they are still deliberating on a kind of a strategy for Iraq.

Nothing yet has materialized.” With Mosul almost completely liberated from ISIS and operations advancing in Syria to retake Raqqa, there is hope of more stability regionally in the near future.

However, Allawi said that Iraq has received intelligence that ISIS is attempting to “forge an alliance” with al-Qaeda. Allawi revealed that discussions in both Iraq and Syria are taking place between former al-Qaeda members who never joined forces with ISIS and that it will be “the unification of evil forces.”