Vox quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof on the development of ISIS in Syria under President Bashar al-Assad:

Fred Hof, for six crucial months in 2012, played a lead role in shaping US policy toward the Syrian civil war that helped give rise to ISIS. He was the Obama administration’s special adviser for the transition in Syria from March to September that year, and now is a resident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. I got in touch with Hof over email to ask him about ISIS and its rise.

The two biggest causes of ISIS’s rise, Hof said, are sectarianism in Iraq and Bashar al-Assad’s vicious actions in Syria. “ISIS is a vacuum filler,” he wrote. But he singled out some outside actors as well, including the US. “The stupidity” of some individuals in nearby states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar who funded ISIS is “impossible to describe adequately in any known language,” he said. And on President Obama’s current efforts on fighting ISIS: “I truly don’t get it.”

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