Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticized President Barack Obama for what he described as having “discontinued our engagement in the arena,” that being the Middle East because Iran is gaining control of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. And that he argued is causing our allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia great concern.
“One of the biggest problems here is that the fact that the Turks and others view Iran as a greater threat than ISIS. And unless we are willing to allow these people, for example, people trained, to go in and take down Assad, then they won’t cooperate,” McCain said. “If we said to the Turks tomorrow we’ll take out ISIS and help take out Bashir Assad through no-fly zone and through other assistance, use of for example Turkish air base for our air operations… then I think you would get a lot more cooperation from them.”
“Unfortunately, our focus seems to be only on ISIS while we see Iran, four countries, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, basically in control,” he continued. “You could argue that right now the major influence in Baghdad is not the United States by far, that it’s the Iranians.”
“One of the seminal events was when the president turned down the advice of his top national security team on forming and equipping the Free Syrian Army,” McCain added. “Now you’re seeing a very unusual thing happening, and that is that the Islamic group and what is left of the moderate Free Syrian Army have joined forces and they are beginning to achieve military successes. Bashir Assad was running out of people, now ore and more Iranian presence is in Assad government and running the campaign there. So it’s really interesting and we may be faced with this terrible, unacceptable choice, between Bashir Assad or radical Islamic group governing Syria. That’s what happens when we discontinue our engagement in the arena.”
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