- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sen. John McCain said Wednesday that President Obama is sending a poor signal to al Qaeda, the Taliban and other American enemies in the Middle East that amounts to “Hang on, we’re leaving.”

The Arizona Republican said Mr. Obama’s new plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan will leave a vacuum that allows terrorists’ flags to fly over hard-won territory.

“Obviously, I’m very disappointed because it sends a clear signal to the Taliban and other enemies in the region that we will again be withdrawing,” Mr. McCain told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, citing the “preliminary and unnecessary” withdrawal from Iraq.

Obama said Tuesday that he wants to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond the conclusion of formal combat operations at the end of this year, and said all American forces will leave the country by the end of 2016.

Mr. McCain said that is a clear mistake, arguing the Iraq departure allowed al Qaeda to set up shop on the Iraq-Syria border.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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