By Alexander Bolton - 06/15/14 09:56 AM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has long favored a tougher approach on Iran, now says it’s time to work with Iran to stop Sunni extremists overrunning Iraq.
“The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn’t fall. We need to coordinate with the Iranians and the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game, form a new government without [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al] Maliki,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He predicted if the United States declined to engage with Iran, it would take advantage of the vacuum to consolidate control over southern Iraq.
“We should have discussions with Iran to make sure that they don’t use this as an opportunity to seize control of parts of Iraq,” he said.
Graham said his biggest fear is that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will consolidate control over northern Iraq and parts of Syria and eventually march on Jordan, an important U.S. ally.
“Iraq and Syria are going to be the staging ground for the next 9/11 if we don’t do something about it,” he warned.
“If the king of Jordan goes, he’s the victim of these guys, then the whole Mideast is in trouble,” he said.
Asked on "Fox News Sunday" if he favored Iranian involvement in Iraq, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said he “wouldn’t fall into that trap.”
“Iran has been in Iraq for years," the House Intelligence Committee chairman said. "I think it’s a mistake and would be a failure of American leadership.”