“From Libya and Yemen, to Iraq and Syria, the old order in the Middle East — both the regional balance among states and the social order within states — is collapsing, and no new vision has emerged to take its place,” McCain stated.
The Senator warned that the volatile state of the Middle Eastern region coupled with “the failure of US strategy and leadership to shape events in this vital part of the world” have led to the creation of “hostile states” including Iran, Russia and terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
At present, the United States’ key Middle Eastern policy and security focus include reaching an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and destroying ISIL.
“The President has stated our goal as ‘degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL’[Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” McCain said. “However, I fear our effort in Iraq may be exacerbating the conditions that gave rise to ISIL in the first place, by overly relying on brutal Shia militias and insufficiently empowering Sunni Iraqis.”
A US-led international coalition has been trying to stop the ISIL expansion, carrying out airstrikes on militants' targets in Iraq since August 2014, and in Syria since September.
Meanwhile, the United States and Turkey are training some 15,000 Syrian opposition militants in Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia for three years, as part of the campaign against jihadists from the Islamic State and the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
International talks between the P5+1 group of countries and Iran have been ongoing for more than a year, with a looming end of March deadline to reach an agreement on a political framework, followed by a long-term agreement by July. The P5+1 group consists of five permanent UN Security Council members — China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and France plus Germany.
“[W]hile Iran is increasing the scope and pace of its malign activities in the region, there is a dangerous delusion that somehow Iran can be a force for good in the region, aligning with the United States in the fight against ISIL,” McCain said.
McCain stressed that the US’ national interests were at stake in overcoming the challenges in the Middle East, and a clear strategy and resources would be crucial in defeating the enemies in the region.