U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on reports that Al-Qaeda fighters have taken over Fallujah and are gaining ground in other parts of Iraq:
"Reports that Al-Qaeda fighters have taken over Fallujah and are gaining ground in other parts of Iraq are as tragic as they were predictable.
"While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the Administration cannot escape its share of the blame. When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America's enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever. What's sadder still, the thousands of brave Americans who fought, shed their blood, and lost their friends to bring peace to Fallujah and Iraq are now left to wonder whether these sacrifices were in vain.
"Let it be clear that the Administration's narrative that Iraq's political leadership objected to U.S. forces remaining in Iraq after 2011 is patently false. We know firsthand that Iraq's main political blocs were supportive and that the Administration rejected sound military advice and squandered the opportunity to conclude a security agreement with Iraq that could have met U.S. military requirements and helped to consolidate our gains after a decade of war.
"The Administration's failure in Iraq has been compounded by its failed policy in Syria. It has sat by and refused to take any meaningful action, while the conflict has claimed more than 130,000 lives, driven a quarter of the Syrian population from their homes, fueled the resurgence of Al-Qaeda, and devolved into a regional conflict that now threatens our national security interests and the stability of Syria's neighbors, especially Iraq. All of this, too, was predictable.
"We must apply the painful lessons of Iraq in Afghanistan. Talk of a "zero option' must be dismissed as the surest way to squander all of our hard-won gains, thereby allowing Afghanistan to re-emerge as a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies. President Obama finally needs to decide on the missions and troop levels necessary to secure U.S. national security interests and support our Afghan partners beyond 2014. And he needs to move quickly to finalize the Bilateral Security Agreement with the Government of Afghanistan.
"The Administration must recognize the failure of its policies in the Middle East and change course. America has lost time, options, influence, and credibility over the past five years, and we cannot afford to remain disengaged any longer."