McCaul: Iraqi prime minister ‘has to go’

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulAfghan evacuees to be housed at Virginia base Passport backlog threatens to upend travel plans for millions of Americans US lawmakers express shock at Haitian president's assassination MORE (R-Texas) on Sunday said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “has to go” before a political reconciliation can happen.


Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the Texas Republican called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) the “number one national security threat since 9/11.”

“Core Al-Qaeda even calls ISIS "extreme," if that gives you some perspective,” he said. “But I think we need to look at two things; one, targeted air strikes against ISIS without collateral damage to the Sunnis, and number two, a diplomatic, political reconciliation with the Sunni and the Shiites. Not an easy thing to do.”

McCaul said Maliki “blew his opportunity” for reconciliation during the last five years, adding that President Obama shared some blame.

Iraqi troops launched an offensive against ISIS this weekend, trying to take back Tikrit from the Sunni militants. ISIS forces seized control of Tikrit and other urban centers in the northern part of the country in recent weeks.

“We are seeing some movement on the positive side of Sunni tribal leaders starting to disassociate themselves from ISIS because they are so extreme, and we're seeing Shia, cleric leaders, basically saying, ‘You need to talk to the Sunnis and work this out,’” McCaul said.

“I don't think this can happen with Maliki in power,” he added. “The good news is they have to finalize their government at the end of this month, and I do think the Shias are starting to move towards that direction to a new leader.”