Cotton: Islamic State, Iran Rise Hand-in-Hand

Tom Cotton
Tom Cotton / AP
June 5, 2015

The power vacuum left by the United States’ retreat from the Middle East has exacerbated the threats posed by the Islamic State and Iran, according to Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said on Friday.

America’s military withdrawal from the region has allowed for Iran to emerge as a regional hegemonic power, facilitating the Middle East to become a bigger hotbed for terrorist activity than ever before, Cotton said at an event at Johns Hopkins' D.C. campus. Outlining the consequences of Iran rising as a nuclear power in the Middle East, Cotton detailed the fact that countries in the region are beginning to back extremist groups in order to combat Iranian hegemony.

"Over the last three or four months, it is clear that numerous opposition groups have been getting additional financing and weaponry from a host of countries throughout the region. That is because these countries see that as the only way that they can stand up to Iran’s drive for regional hegemony."

He went on to link this chain of events with American withdrawal from the area.

"That’s what happens when America retreats from the region, when we don’t play the role of imposing a balance of power that has existed for many years, and let countries fight it out between themselves.

Cotton said that the United States should not see the rise of the Islamic State and Iran as regional issues. Both groups aspire to extend the battlefield to American soil.

"That poses a risk to the United States, not just for our allies, but for the U.S. right here at home … the Islamic State finds safe haven in Syria and Turkey and is aggressively trying to recruit Westerners to include U.S. citizens, in the U.S. at this very moment," he said.

Cotton urged neutralizing U.S. adversaries at the onset and to "continue to fight the terrorists on their terrain, so they don’t bring the fight here."

In order to combat the growing threat to freedom and safety in the Middle East, Cotton suggested that America reestablish control in the region and abandon the attitude of isolationism that has been adopted by the current administration.

"Without that kind of residual force, to continue to provide stability, mentoring and training to the Iraqi forces to serve as a triple armor on Iranian influence—we’re seeing the consequences of that retreat now," he said.