Secretary of State John Kerry’s awkward denial that the United States has not proposed “coordinating with Iran” against ISIS suggests the Obama administration did indeed propose this and is engaged in damage control after its efforts were revealed by Iranian officials.
I wrote in a Sept. 3 Newsmax article that while the U.S. should attack ISIS — also known as ISIL and the Islamic State — in Syria even though this will help keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, the United States must resist the temptation to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria. I believe this because Iran bears significant responsibility for the outbreak of sectarian tensions in Iraq since 2011 due to its strong support for the Nouri al-Maliki government and by its training of Shiite militias that have massacred Iraqi Sunnis.
An increased Iranian presence in Iraq would alienate Iraqi Sunnis and make it more difficult to bring them back into the political process.
I believe the Obama administration has been unable to resist the temptation of trying to bring Iran into the battle against ISIS. According to The New York Times, Iranian officials claim they have rejected multiple invitations by the United States to join a coalition against ISIS.
According to the Iranian state news agency — IRNA — Iran's President Khamenei recently said, "The American ambassador in Iraq asked our ambassador [in Iraq] for a session to discuss coordinating a fight against Daesh [ISIS]."
Khamenei said the Iranian government rejected this request.
Kerry’s denial of Khamenei’s claim was tortuous and hard to believe. Kerry said today that he is not going to get into a "back and forth" with Iran over whether his diplomats suggested that the U.S. and Iran join forces against ISIS. Kerry also said, "I have no idea of what interpretation they drew from any discussion that may or may not have taken place. We are not coordinating with Iran. Period."
The Los Angeles Times reported today that the U.S. has been discussing ISIS with Iran. According to a Sept. 14 LA Times article, “The U.S., for its part, says it is not coordinating military efforts against Islamic State with Iran, though it has repeatedly discussed the issue with Iranian officials.”
Despite holding behind the scenes discussions with Iran about Iraq, Syria and ISIS, the United States vetoed Iran’s participation in an international conference that opened today in Paris on the ISIS threat. While I agree this was the right move, the Obama administration’s decision to publicly block Iran from the Paris ISIS conference while it conducts secret talks with Tehran on the same issues this conference will be addressing suggests Obama officials are trying to conceal what they are discussing with Iran from the American people and Congress.
So when do U.S. talks with Iran about ISIS become cooperation? More importantly, why is the United States using nuclear talks with Iran — which are going very badly — to discuss Iraq and Syria? What purpose could this achieve other than getting Iran more involved in these two countries.
It is fortunate that Iran revealed the overtures by Obama officials to coordinate on the ISIS threat since Congress can now demand answers from the administration about this latest foreign policy blunder and hopefully force the president to halt any efforts by his diplomats to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria.
Fred Fleitz served for 25 years with the CIA, the State Department, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is currently Chief Analyst with LIGNET.com, Newsmax Media’s global intelligence and forecasting service. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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