The world would be a better place if dictators such as Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi were still in power, top Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump said in comments aired Sunday.
Calling Iraq the "Harvard of terrorism," Trump told CNN's State of the Union the country had turned into a "training ground for terrorists."
"People are getting their heads chopped off. They are being drowned. Right now it is far worse than ever under Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi," Trump said, adding the countries would be less fractured had the two dictators stayed in power.
Trump said the Middle East "blew up" around U.S. President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his biggest Democratic rival in the White House race.
The Republican front-runner also criticized the decision to invade Iraq by former U.S. president George W. Bush in 2003, based on faulty intelligence reports the country had unconventional weapons.
Saddam, the former Iraqi president, was toppled in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and was executed in 2006.
Gadhafi, who ruled Libya for four decades, was ousted and slain in October 2011.
While Trump still leads in national polls, a new CBS News survey shows him tied with Republican candidate Ben Carson at 27 percent in the early selection state of Iowa.
Two other polls released last week showed Carson pulling ahead of Trump in Iowa.