Returning to Chattanooga on Saturday from a weeklong trip to the Middle East, Sen. Bob Corker offered several comments on political and security issues pertaining to the region.
Corker, who is ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Turkey, Jordan and Iraq during the trip. The senator and former Chattanooga mayor also visited two refugee camps, one in Turkey and the other in Jordan, which are hosting Syrian citizens who have fled the ongoing violence in their country.
Corker praised the governments of both Turkey and Jordan for their response to the Syrian conflict but expressed concern about the roles of the U.S. and the international community at large in their addressing of the situation.
"The refugees there are frustrated by what they see as a lack of support from the international community for the opposition," Corker said, commenting on his meetings with groups at Kilis refugee camp near the Turkish-Syrian border.
Regarding his visit to Zaatri refugee camp in Jordan, the senator expressed additional worries about what he sees as a drawn-out decision-making process pertaining to U.S. involvement.
"While U.S. civilian and military personnel in Jordan are focused on the stability to that nation and are improving our capability to assist the vetted, moderate opposition in Syria, I'm very concerned with the slow pace of decisions in Washington regarding implementation," he said.
The visits to refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan were the second to each for Corker.
In recent months, Corker has been a proponent of providing lethal aid to vetted rebel groups.
In Iraq, the senator visited Baghdad for meetings with U.S. Ambassador Robert Stephen Beecroft. While in Baghdad, he also met leaders from the Christian minority and Iraqi government officials.
Corker also visited the Kurdish capital of Erbil, where he met with leaders from the region.
Commenting on his observations while in Iraq, the senator said he thought the security situation in the country was "deteriorating rapidly."
"The lack of an inclusive governance effort is creating internal tensions, and that, mixed with regional sectarian tensions flamed by the Syrian conflict, is a potent mix that is allowing al-Qaida to have a significant resurgence in the country," he said. "If left unaddressed, these destructive trends will continue to destabilize the country, and a United States foreign policy that does not recognize this reality will be very problematic for Iraq, for us and for the region."
Corker will appear on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" today to discuss observations from the trip. The show is at 9 a.m.
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