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U.S. slipping into Iran alliance in sectarian war

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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U.S. SLIPPING INTO IRAN ALLIANCE IN SECTARIAN WAR
Secretary of State John Kerry said aloud today what the Obama administration has been hinting for days: The U.S. military may help Iran fight against rival Islamists who are beheading their way through northern Iraq. Yes, that Iran. A country that claims to shoot down U.S. drones might be aided by U.S. drones in a new front of an old war between armies from rival branches of Islam. Reuters reports that Iranian leaders have said they’re open to the idea, paving the way for American air power to be used in support of Iranian ground forces. It would have sounded preposterous just a few weeks ago. But it sounds plausible today, as the city of Tal Afar and its more than 200,000 residents join the list of those conquered by a brutal, growing army seeking to create an Islamist state that spans across the Iraq-Syria border. After taking the Sunni side in the regional sectarian conflict for most of the past 30 years, the U.S. looks ready to weigh in for the first time in a significant way on behalf of the Shia.

[Fox News: “Despite the added security by the Iraqi government in Baghdad, a string of explosions killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 30 in the city Sunday, police and hospital officials said.”]

Talking around the issue - The talks are expected occur as a sidebar to long-running negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program. And like the Obama administration’s efforts to forge a partnership with Iran on allowing for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the partnership is presented as the least-bad option available. But unlike the diplomatic avenues in Afghanistan, the Iraq deal could lead to the U.S. encouraging Iranian forces to cross the border with Iraq and fight against their longtime hated foes. Such a move may deemed preferable to the sight of Baghdad falling to the black-robed Sunni warriors encroaching on the city, but it doesn’t exactly gibe with the overall talking points from the administration that the cause of the crisis is an Iraqi government that is insufficiently inclusive of Sunnis. If you think that Sunni Iraqis are unwilling to fight for the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad now, just wait until they’re asked to fight alongside the Iranians.

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Chris Stirewalt

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