Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) made the remarks in an interview with CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday, when he was asked about US Vice President Joe Biden’s idea that Iraq could be divided into three countries.
“That may be what happens here. I think it’s in the best interest of the United States to have a stable Iraq, but we’re not there now,” Barrasso said.
The Republican senator also said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “needs to go,” echoing remarks made by several other US lawmakers including Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).
Barrasso also criticized President Barack Obama over his foreign policy and said the recent crisis in Iraq should be blamed on the US president for his decision to withdraw US troops from the country.
“When the president came into office in 2009, I think the world was a lot safer than it is now,” he said. “I think the president’s decision to withdraw the United States, to keep a campaign promise in Iraq, without leaving a stay-behind force was a mistake.”
Over the past weeks, Takfiri militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — a radical al-Qaeda offshoot that enjoys support from loyalists of Iraq’s former Baathist regime– have been wreaking havoc in the Iraq.
ISIL has captured large swaths of territory across northern Iraq after seizing the city of Mosul on June 10 and sweeping towards Baghdad.
The Iraqi army and tribal fighters have retaken full control of Tikrit, the birthplace of former Baathist dictator Saddam Hussein.
Meanwhile, the US has increased its military presence in the Middle Eastern country. On Thursday, the Pentagon said that 500 US military forces were in Baghdad.
The Pentagon has also revealed that the US special operations troops in Iraq are being backed by armed Predator drones flying over Baghdad.
Ryan Crocker, Obama’s former ambassador to Iraq, said earlier this month that “we would be foolish to think” that ISIL militants would not plan attacks against the US.
“This is a more formidable force than Osama bin Laden’s group that brought us 9/11. Its fighters are experienced, completely committed to their cause, well armed and well financed. As many as 2,000 of them hold Western passports, including U.S. ones, so there’s no need for visas,” wrote Crocker in an op-ed for The Washington Post which was published on June 19.