Editor’s Note: You know things are bad when your ‘enemy’ turns ‘ally’ against a common foe. And things are really bad in Iraq.
The Obama administration reportedly is preparing to open direct talks with Iran on possibly cooperating to counter the Sunni militant force seizing large swaths of Iraq and threatening Baghdad, weighing an unlikely alliance in the face of a common foe.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the administration was “open to discussions” with Tehran if they can help end the violence. He told Yahoo! News he would “not rule out anything that would be constructive.”
The deliberations come as the U.S. moved more assets into the region in preparation for a possible mass evacuation of Americans. According to U.S. Navy officials, the USS Mesa Verde is moving into the Persian Gulf with about 500 Marines on board, to help in the event of an evacuation.
It is the fourth U.S. Naval vessel to move into the Gulf. The ship will join the USS George HW Bush, along with the USS Philippines Sea, a cruiser, and the USS Truxton, a destroyer. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the ships provide “the commander-in-chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them.”
In addition, a senior U.S. military official confirmed to Fox News that the U.S. is sending nearly 100 troops to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to provide additional security. The embassy remains open, but the State Department already has started to “temporarily” send some embassy staff to other consulate locations in Iraq.
In the face of the growing threat to both the Iraqi government and possibly American interests, The Wall Street Journal reports that a dialogue between the U.S. and Iran on the issue of Iraq is expected to begin this week.
Both sides have publicly committed support to the beleaguered government of Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in recent days.
American and Iranian diplomats are expected to convene in Vienna Monday to begin new talks aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, though it is not clear if Iraq will be discussed on the sidelines of that conference.
The possibility of the U.S. engaging Iran to aid Maliki’s government received a cautious endorsement Sunday from one of the president’s biggest foreign policy critics.
“Why did we deal with Stalin? Because he was not as bad as Hitler,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said Sunday. “The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn’t fall.”