Local Muslims and Chaldeans react to President Obama’s ISIS strategy

By Natasha Sweatte
Several former Iraqis now living in San Diego criticized President Obama’s strategy Wednesday for confronting ISIS militants, and said they worry that partnering with the Iraqi government will do more harm than good.

They all agreed ISIS must be eliminated, as the group has been responsible for killing thousands of innocent people, including two American journalists beheaded on video. For the local Muslim and Chaldean communities, the slaughter is hitting too close to home.

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Originally from Iraq, Wael Al-Delaimy has lived in the United States since 2000. However, a large chunk of his family still lives in the area that’s now being controlled by ISIS.

“They fled their home they’re living in shelters,” Al-Delaimy said, adding that he’s worried the president’s plan to partner with the Iraqi government will further jeopardize their safety.

“It is not a wise decision because they were the cause for ISIS to come in,” said Al-Delaimy. He said that while there has been a change in leadership in the Iraqi government, it’s essentially all the same faces.

“The previous prime minister is now vice president,” he said.

There are nearly 120,000 Muslims and 40,000 Chaldeans in San Diego County.

“Every one of us has a family member in Iraq, they need immediate help,” said Iraqi native Noori Barka, one of the many local Chaldeans with family overseas.

While he agreed that the mentality of the Iraqi government hasn’t changed, he said he believes working with their leaders will ultimately put pressure on them to bring down ISIS.

“We must support the Iraqi government,” Barka said. “We do whatever it takes to stabilize Iraq because our invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and somehow we have to fix it.”

Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said he believes a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat ISIS and hopes the administration follows through.

“The Syrian regime is a criminal regime; we need to be clear that we need to end that regime,” Mohebi said.

One year ago the President said he wouldn’t put American boots on the ground in Syria in a primetime address on Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

However, both the Muslim and Chaldean community members said they support some use of force when it comes to defeating a terrorist group, especially one responsible for killing their own family members.