Rep. Michael Waltz, who served in Afghanistan as a Green Beret commander, said Tuesday he's concerned that an agreement to end the United States combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year "has as much to do with Iran as it has to do with Iraq."
"Remember, Biden's senior negotiators have been in Europe for months now, trying to get back into the Iran deal, talking about all kinds of concessions and lifting sanctions," the Florida Republican told Fox Business' "Mornings With Maria." "One of the things that the Iranian regime has most badly wanted over the last several years is for the United States to completely pull out of Iraq so they can extend their influence through Iraq, all the way to the Mediterranean and of course on Israel's borders."
Monday, Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sealed their agreement formally ending the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021. The move comes with Biden's withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, ending two missions that had started under former President George W. Bush, and Waltz said Tuesday he is concerned about both plans.
"The same folks that are around Biden were the same ones who demanded we completely pull out of Iraq in 2011 that led to the rise of ISIS," Waltz said. "I just remind everyone, I know it's been long, hard, and expensive, but the only reason we were able to get Osama bin Laden and (Qasem) Soleimani and (ISIS leader Abu Bakr) al Baghdadi, is because we had special operations troops and assets forward. We need to stay on offense. We need them to fight these wars over there, not let them follow us home back here to the United States."
In addition, tens of thousands of ISIS fighters remain in detention camps and makeshift prisons, Waltz warned.
"Our great ally the Kurds are keeping a lid on (them) right now but it's a powder keg and that could explode at any moment," said Waltz. 'That's why we need to keep a small, we're not talking hundreds of thousands of troops, but a small forward presence to keep a lid on those groups but also make sure we have an eye on the Iraqi army. We should have done the exact same thing in Afghanistan."
But when the United States' presence is yanked out, the "bottom falls out pretty quickly," said Waltz. "I think it depends on exactly how Biden does this. I hope they're learning from the mistake that's unfolding in Afghanistan right now."
Waltz added that he spoke with the son "of a legendary resistance leader" in Afghanistan recently, and he does not think the United States is getting the full picture of what is going on there.
"I think it's worse than we understand right now," said Waltz. "This is going to be a repeat of what the Obama administration did in Iraq, where it gets so bad that we end up having to go back. My fear is we're going to have to send our troops back in with no bases because we gave them all away and with no local allies because they're being hunted down as we speak. Everyone who worked with us, not just the interpreters, female Afghan politicians, civil society leader journalists, they're being slaughtered now as we speak in Taliban-controlled territory. It's just awful. And incredibly difficult for those of us who have invested so much to watch."
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