Tags: Al-Qaida | Barack Obama | Iran | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | War on Terrorism | GOP

GOP Blasts Report of Obama's Secret Letter to Iran

By    |   Friday, 07 Nov 2014 12:50 PM

Congressional Republicans are blasting a report in The Wall Street Journal that President Obama sent a secret letter to Iran's Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last month describing what he regards as the two nations' joint interest in combating the Islamic State (ISIS).

"I can tell you that [the Obama letter] is causing real problems with our Sunni Arab League partners in the fight against ISIS," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told MSNBC.

Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham called the report "outrageous," adding that cooperation with Iran would fail and would "harm U.S. national security interests."

The Journal reported that in his letter to Khamenei, Obama described what he termed a
"shared fight" against the jihadist group, adding that U.S.-Iranian cooperation on the matter would depend on Tehran's willingness to reach an agreement with Washington and other international powers on curbing its nuclear program before a Nov. 24 deadline.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest refused to confirm or deny the report, which has raised alarm among congressional Republicans, many of whom have voiced doubts about the administration's approach to Iran.

Rogers, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the current term, has expressed reservations about the nuclear accord being negotiated with Iran. The Michigan Republican said Friday that Tehran is not a reliable partner and believes it leaked the letter to gain leverage over the United States.

The Journal reported that last month's letter to Khamenei was at least the fourth time Obama has written the Iranian leader since taking office in January 2009. Although American officials tout what they see as a thawing of U.S.-Iranian relations over the past year, that wasn't reflected in recent comments by Khamenei, who last month described the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State as a plot to damage the Muslim world.

"America, Zionism, and especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions — the wicked government of Britain — have sharply increased their efforts of creating divisions between the Sunnis and Shiites," Khamenei said. "They created al-Qaida and [the Islamic State] in order to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic, but today, they have turned on them."

That kind of language has led Republican hawks like Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois (co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation to strengthen U.S. sanctions, along with Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey) to emphasize what they say is the need to toughen Washington's approach.

"The best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to pass the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk legislation — not to give the Iranians more time to build a bomb," Kirk said.

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Congressional Republicans are blasting a report in The Wall Street Journal that President Obama sent a secret letter to Iran's Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describing what he regards as the two nations' joint interest in combating the Islamic State.
GOP, Obama, secret letter, Iran, ISIS, nuclear, Ayatollah
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2014-50-07
Friday, 07 Nov 2014 12:50 PM
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