McCain op-ed: We need a plan in the Middle East
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Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain promotes July 17 as #GBMday to raise awareness of father's cancer The peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Lindsey Graham: 'Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism' MORE (R-Ariz.) called for a new strategy for peace in the Middle East in an op-ed for The New York Times on Tuesday, spotlighting failures of the U.S. operations in Iraq. 

McCain pointed to the United States's lack of a "comprehensive strategy," a failure he pinned on the Obama administration and that the Trump administration has fully recognized. 

The veteran senator, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the lacking strategy in the region was demonstrated by the recent tensions between Iraqi Kurds and Iranian-backed Iraqi militias.

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"This is totally unacceptable," McCain said, in defense of the long-standing friendship between the U.S. and the Kurdish people, who are seeking independence from Iraq. 

"Let me be clear: If Baghdad cannot guarantee the Kurdish people in Iraq the security, freedom and opportunities they desire, and if the United States is forced to choose between Iranian-backed militias and our longstanding Kurdish partners, I choose the Kurds," McCain wrote. 

McCain, who was a leading supporter of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to eliminate terrorist threats from within the country, accused the U.S. of losing focus on broader issues in the Middle East amid recent victories against the Islamic State.

"In Iraq, the United States seems to still be basking in the feeling of victory after the liberation of Mosul this summer," McCain wrote, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria stronghold taken by U.S. forces. 

The U.S. has now taken the city of Raqqa, another key base of operations for the Islamic State, which was completely decimated during the siege. 

McCain warned that the United States could lose its influence in the Middle East, a vital strategic location, if it does not develop a new strategy prioritizing the preservation of political stabilization there. 

"That is why Americans need to care about what is going on in the Middle East right now. That is why we need to stick with our true friends, like the Kurds," McCain concluded.