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Rubio: Obama’s Strategy for the Middle East has Backfired

In a Washington Post op-ed piece Florida Senator Marco Rubio wrote:

The fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to the Islamic State and recent gains by the group in Syria are the latest signs that President Obama’s strategy to defeat this brutal terrorist group is failing. But the problem is far bigger than that. The president’s entire approach to the Middle East has backfired.

The Middle East is more dangerous and unstable than when Obama came into office — a time when Iraq and Syria were more stable, the Iranian nuclear program was considerably less advanced and the Islamic State did not yet exist.

Much of this instability is a result of Obama’s disengagement from the region, best symbolized by the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. The vacuum created by America’s pullback has been filled by bad actors, including terrorist extremists, both Sunni and Shiite, who have flourished in the absence of U.S. leadership.

On one side are the radical Sunni extremists of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and affiliated groups. The Islamic State has capitalized on the political grievances many Iraqi Sunnis have with their sectarian Shiite leaders, as well as the divisions between Syrian Sunnis and the brutal Alawite-dominated Assad regime, which is supported by Iran. The Islamic State’s black banner is now spreading as far afield as Libya and Afghanistan.

On the other side is Iran, a country run by a militant Shiite clerical regime that is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and has as its primary goal regional domination and the export of the Iranian revolution. As the Obama administration has focused on negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, Tehran has exploited U.S. weakness and expanded its reach into Syria, Iraq and Yemen, among other countries.

To begin to deal with the challenges we face, we need a reassertion of U.S. leadership in the region and specifically in the fight against the Islamic State.

Keep reading here.