Three Republican leaders are demanding that President Barack Obama take immediate steps to help the Iraqi government quash the resurgence of al-Qaida groups that have retaken control of Fallujah and other areas in the western province of Anbar.
House Speaker John Boehner has joined with Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham in calling on the administration to "get engaged" and to stop acting, in their view, as if the situation in Iraq is no longer important to U.S. interests.
"The administration has chosen to spend much of its time and energy trying to explain why having terrorists holding key terrain in the Middle East is not the president’s problem
,” Boehner said Thursday, according to The Washington Post.
"The U.S. has and will continue to have vital national interest in Iraq. It’s time that the president recognize this and get engaged.
"Precious blood was spilled . . . helping Iraqis remove a brutal dictator. That progress is now threatened. In the case of Fallujah, it’s been reversed. A status of forces agreement with Iraq should have been agreed to and this administration failed to deliver," Boehner added.
Despite the criticism, however, the Ohio Republican said he is not in favor of sending U.S. troops back into Iraq and instead called on the administration to speed up delivery of vital military aid to the country.
McCain also weighed in on the situation in Fallujah, suggesting that the administration's reaction to al-Qaida's resurgence there suggest that U.S. troops who died there taking Fallujah during the war did so in vein. He blamed the resurgence on the president's efforts to end the war as quickly as possible.
"What do we tell these young people and their families?” McCain said, according to the Post. "We have to tell them that their sacrifice was squandered by an administration that wanted to get out. The return of al-Qaida to Anbar is a sobering reminder to the administration that the tide of war is not receding."
He joined with Graham on the Senate floor Thursday in blasting the administration for not working harder to negotiate a deal with the Iraqi government that would have kept some U.S. forces in Iraq. A continued U.S. presence there, they argued, would have aided Iraqi counter-insurgency operations and would have had a major influence on the direction of the country.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney hit back at the Republicans, saying the Obama administration is still fully supportive of Iraq and said that Boehner's claims of U.S. lack of interest in the region are incorrect.
"Maybe he thinks that American men and women in uniform ought to be fighting today in Anbar province,” Carney said. "The president made a commitment to end the war in Iraq. He fulfilled that commitment."
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