Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on developments in Iraq:
“The rapid advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) should be a wake-up call for the Obama Administration and the country. ISIS has conquered major cities in western and northern Iraq. It has released thousands of extremists from Iraqi prisons. It has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from banks in Mosul. It has seized tons of military equipment, including U.S.-provided equipment, from military bases and police stations. ISIS fighters now stand at the gates of Baghdad.
“Iraq’s unraveling should come as no surprise. We and others predicted that would happen as a result of the President’s decision to prematurely withdraw all American forces from Iraq. As early as 2011, we said this decision would be a strategic victory for our enemies, and that is what it has become. The President and his national security team in Washington are responsible for this catastrophe, and he should bring in a new team with a proven track record of success in Iraq – leaders like General David Petraeus, General Jack Keane, General James Mattis, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and others.
“At the same time, we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of Iraq in Afghanistan. We urge the President to reverse his decision to fully withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of his term and instead make clear that any troops withdrawals after this year should be based on conditions on the ground. If we do not, Iraq's tragic fate today – with the collapse of state security forces and the resurgence of Al-Qaeda and its allies – could also befall Afghanistan.
“The areas spanning eastern Syria and western Iraq are now the largest Al-Qaeda safe haven in history. The lesson of 9/11 is that we cannot concede massive ungoverned spaces to the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations. We therefore call on the President to explain to the American people and the Congress what actions he will take to address the growing threat to U.S. national security interests, and increasingly to our homeland as well, that Syria and Iraq have become.”