WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is confronting a recent burst of strength by al-Qaida that is chipping away at the remains of Mideast stability. It's testing his hands-off approach to conflicts in Iraq and Syria at the same time he pushes to keep thousands of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Al-Qaida-backed fighters have fought hard with other rebel groups in Syria and led a surprisingly strong campaign in Iraq to take two cities where U.S. forces had suffered heavy losses. The invigorated front highlights the tension between two of Obama's top foreign policy tenets: to end American involvement in Mideast wars and to eradicate al-Qaida. It also raises questions about the future U.S. role in the region if militants overtake American gains made during more than a decade of war.