- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sen. John McCain said Sunday that Iran is “on the march” and that President Obama lacks a strategy to deal with the Islamic republic, ratcheting up a tense standoff between congressional Republicans and the White House.

The Arizona Republican and new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee was responding to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who promised to fight threats to U.S. interests abroad during a tour of the major talk shows.

“I did not hear Mr. McDonough articulate a strategy, except that we will fight against these people, which is nice to know,” Mr. McCain said on “Face the Nation” on CBS

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The senator said Iran’s backing of Houthi rebels, who’ve overrun Yemen’s capital, raises the stakes in the Middle East.

“The Iranians are now either dominant or extremely influential in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen,” he said.

He said Iranian influence is gaining ground because the country thinks “they’re in a war with us.”

Mr. McCain threw his support behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is scheduled to address Congress in March and, against the White House’s wishes, lobby for more sanctions on Iran.

“They are convinced that these negotiations with Iran will lead to Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon, which will then nuclearize the entire Middle East, and that will be a direct threat to the existence of the state of Israel,” Mr. McCain said of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State continues to gain ground in Iraq and Syria, a wave that will require more “boots on the ground” to defeat, according to Mr. McCain.

“I know that is a tough thing to say and a tough thing for Americans to swallow, but it doesn’t mean the 82nd Airborne,” he said. “It means forward air controllers. It means special forces. It means intelligence and it means other capabilities. “

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