Trump says Iran ‘big winner’ in Iraq, Clinton vows no-fly zone in Syria

Clinton repeats her pledge to establish no-fly zone in Syria but admits it would not happen on her first day in office.

Final de­bate before November 8th election

2016/10/23 Issue: 78 Page: 1

The Arab Weekly
Mark Habeeb

WASHINGTON - In the final US presidential de­bate before the November 8th election, Republican Donald Trump said “[Hillary Clinton] lost Mosul”, referring to the Obama administration’s withdraw­al from Iraq, and that even if the Is­lamic State (ISIS) were driven from the Iraqi city, Iran was the “big winner” and US President Barack Obama’s policies were “making it easy for Iran” to take over Iraq.

Trump suggested that the timing of the US-backed attack on Mosul was designed to make Obama, and by extension Clinton, look good before the election. He blamed the Aleppo disaster on Obama and Clinton, suggesting that by fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad — “who is much tougher and smarter than her and Obama” — they had opened the door to ISIS in Syria. Aleppo was the result of “bad de­cisions” by Clinton when she was secretary of State, Trump said.

Clinton repeated her pledge to establish a no-fly zone in Syria but admitted it would not happen on her first day in office and would require consultations with Russia and others. “A no-fly zone would save lives and hasten the end of the conflict,” she said in the October 19th event.

Trump said many Syrian im­migrants who have been allowed into the United States “are ISIS-aligned” and predicted this would become apparent in coming years. Clinton responded by saying that “I am not going to let anyone into this country who is not vetted” and that Syrian widows and orphans pose no threat to the United States.

The event’s bombshell came when Trump refused to say wheth­er he would accept the election’s outcome if he loses. Trump has claimed for weeks that the elec­tion was “rigged” and that voter fraud was common. In response to a question as to whether he would accept the election’s outcome, Trump said: “I will have to look at it at the time… I will keep you in suspense.”

Never before has a major party’s candidate for president cast doubts about the legitimacy of the coun­try’s electoral system and Trump’s comments dominated post-debate commentary about what was oth­erwise the most substantive of the three encounters, although it was equally nasty in tone.

Trump entered the evening trailing Clinton in virtually every national poll as well as in polls of most of the battleground states.

Mark Habeeb is East-West editor of The Arab Weekly and adjunct professor of Global Politics and Security at Georgetown University in Washington.

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