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STUCK IN THE MIDDLE? Frustrations grow over Obama's Iraq response...

(Fox News) -- The political war over the Obama administration's response to the growing Iraq crisis heated up on Thursday, as Republican lawmakers took to the Senate floor to blast President Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East and urge a new approach. 

"These recent events ... are not intelligence failures. They are policy and leadership failures," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said, claiming the president's Middle East policy has "totally unraveled." 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., blamed the decision to withdraw entirely from Iraq for the current quagmire. 

"You've seen a collapse of the Iraqi Army that I think could have been prevented," Graham said. 

The back-to-back string of speeches on the floor were the latest show of pressure from congressional lawmakers aimed at getting the administration, broadly, to reconsider its foreign policies and, specifically, to get more involved in protecting the Baghdad government from Sunni Muslim militants sweeping across the country's north.   

The president met Wednesday afternoon in the Oval Office with the top four congressional leaders, but apparently did not announce any decisions for the way forward in Iraq. He is said to be weighing various options, including sending special forces into Iraq to help the government. He reportedly is leaning away from the possibility of airstrikes, but officials say no options have been taken off the table. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials were set to meet with Obama on Thursday. 

In the strongest sign yet of U.S. doubts about Iraq's stability, the Obama administration also is weighing whether to press the Shiite prime minister in Baghdad to step down in a last-ditch effort to prevent disgruntled Sunnis from igniting a civil war. 

More so than airstrikes or other American military action, top U.S. officials believe that giving more credence to Sunni concerns about Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can stave off another deadly round of sectarian fighting of the kind that engulfed Iraq less than a decade ago. 

It is unclear whether Obama or other administration officials would publicly call for al-Maliki to resign. U.S. officials said there is concern within the administration that pushing al-Maliki too hard might stiffen his resolve to stay in office and drive him closer to Iran, which is seeking to keep the Shiite leader in power. 

However, officials said, the administration does want to see evidence of a leadership transition plan being put in place in Iraq. 

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