Saturday, June 14, 2014

"State Department officials are in fact in dialogue with their Iranian counterparts about how to turn back ISIS"

'After a slow start caused by a number of domestic political distractions and the continuing reverberations of the return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the Administration is beginning to formulate its response to the surging advances of the ISIS in Northern Iraq. The Pentagon is preparing a list ofmilitary options, but President Obama has made clear that he is reluctant to intervene unless the Iraqi government provides concrete assurances of its intention to undertake political reform in Iraq. While US officials do not underestimate the seriousness of the ISIS advances, they are also fault Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki for his sectarian manner of governance. The Intelligence Community is reporting that Sunni leaders in Anbar province have given their blessing to ISIS. At the Pentagon, there is deep resentment against him for his failure to allow a basing agreement for a residual US force. Any US intervention will therefore be heavily conditioned. There are even some at high policy making levels who are dusting off former ideas about partitioning Iraq. Our White  House sources advise us that they have "polled" questions about Iraqi intervention extensively and their public statements reflect the current mood of the American public on this issue. The events is Iraq are throwing the spotlight on Iran. Secretary of State Kerry has been publicly cautious about whether last week’s talks with Iran about nuclear issues also included discussion of Iraq. However, we understand that, with evidence ofongoing Iranian operations in Iraq, State Department officials are in fact in dialogue with their Iranian counterparts about how to turn back ISIS. They remain anxious not to conflate the Iraq and nuclear problems and thus give the Iranians the sense that by being helpful on the former they can  extract concessions on the latter.  Iran experts advise us, however, that this goal will prove elusive. Iraq has taken attention away from Ukraine, but US officials hold Russia responsible for the continuing resilience of the pro-Russia militants. While talk of a third round of sanctions has eased recently, these could readily activated unless Moscow takes action to calm the situation in Eastern Ukraine. Finally, on China preparations for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue to be held in early July are in train, but divisions between the two sides are hindering agreement about the agenda.'

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