President Barack Obama's Middle East policy is one of "willful ignorance," retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Sunday, and he is concerned the pending deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons capabilities will worsen the situation.
"Right now, we have almost a complete breakdown of order in the Middle East," Flynn told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace
. "A new Middle East is essentially struggling to be born."
Also , he pointed out that Iran is "clearly on the march," and will influence the growing regional sectarian wars.
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The real confusion, Obama administration critics say, is that the United States is opposing Iranian-backed rebel fighters in Yemen, but siding with Iran in its fight against the Islamic State's efforts in Iraq and Syria.
"At the end of the day, we have just this incredible policy confusion — never mind what our strategy is to execute that policy," Flynn said. "We have to stop what we’re doing and take a hard look at everything going on the Middle East because it’s not going in the right direction."
And the United States, Flynn said, is working with "almost a policy of willful ignorance ... we have some major problems that we are dealing with, and here we are talking to Iran about a nuclear deal with this almost complete order of breakdown in the Middle East."
But meanwhile, Flynn, who says he does not trust Iran, said the nation needs to keep in mind that "Iran is also a country with ballistic missiles, cyber capabilities, they are also still a state-sponsor of terrorism. And here we are dealing with them as though we’re going to give them a carte blanche — I know it will be some number of years to have a nuclear capability. Give me a break!"
The United States also should not forget that there is a "real push back" by the Sunni governments and their "lack of trust and lack of respect for the United States."
And when it comes to how close the Middle East is to being in a sectarian regional war, Flynn said, "we're not close, we're there."
"This is what's going on and we have to face reality and not try to assume that we are going to be able to say something and hope that that's going to be that out there," said Flynn. "That our policy will be carried out because we say something."
The West also has to acknowledge that Iran and radical Islamist extremists "do not like our way of life...in fact, they have stated that they want to see the destruction of our way of life," Flynn told Wallace.
Leaders of the United States need to be "really clear" with the public about the Middle East, Flynn said, not to scare people but to "tell them exactly what it is that we are facing."
But even with an nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran, the situation in the Middle East will remain volatile, said Flynn.
"We're not all going to suddenly wake up and peace is going to be breaking out in the Middle East," said Flynn. "We're going to face increasing complexity in the Middle East and the escalation of this sectarian civil war."
And what seems to be a "light at the end of the tunnel" when it comes to Iran isn't that at all, Flynn said, but it's "a train and it's heading in our direction."
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