US and Iran: “indirect confederates” or allies in Iraq? 53

The US certainly is not … but definitely is … co-operating militarily with Iran.

An article in the Washington Post shows the Obama administration is half-confessing to co-operation with Iran. (See our post immediately below).

The urgent fight to keep Islamic State forces­ from taking over more of Iraq has led the Obama administration to tolerate, and in some cases even approve, things it once would have loudly protested.

When Iraqi Shiite militias, backed by Iran and long branded illegal by the administration, retook the town of Amerli from the Sunni Muslim militants last week, U.S. officials breathed a sigh of relief.

Did they do no more than “breathe a sigh of relief”? Did they not have a hand in the retaking of Amerli? It seems that Iran did. (We will return to this.)

Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and usually described as an arch­enemy of the United States, reportedly was present during the battle and was seen days later in an Internet-posted photo shaking hands with a militia fighter.

Just “present” at the battle. Like Obama in the Senate. Happened to be there. Took no actual part.

The Washington Post would rather you stopped looking at Amerli and the illegal militias and that head of the Iranian Quds Force – look at what the Kurds are doing … good guys, even if their forces are operating outside of recognized borders. You wouldn’t want to make a fuss about that, would you?  Not quibble over legal niceties … ?

Your attention is redirected:

Farther north, Kurdish fighters have occupied the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a prize the Kurds have long claimed but which lies outside the borders — recognized by both Baghdad and Washington — of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurd­i­stan region. Far from insisting the fighters withdraw, the administration is glad that someone is defending the city from the Islamic State.

Such legal and policy niceties have become a luxury in the battle to push back the militants whom President Obama on Friday called “a savage organization” that “poses­ a significant threat” to the United States and its allies.

It is not, as one administration official said with significant under­statement, an ideal situation, and there is widespread recognition that facts are being created on the ground that are likely to cause problems in the future.

But for now, the existential battle being waged in Iraq is one that has made at least indirect confederates of forces­ that are neither allies nor partners, nor often even on speaking terms.

But what about Iran? Sorry, but we want to know about Iran. Are the US and Iran “indirect confederates” in Iraq at this time?

Here’s what the White house has to say about it:

While the administration has acknowledged discussing the Iraqi crisis with Iranian officials on the margins of separate talks about Iran’s nuclear program, “we do not coordinate military action or share intelligence with Iran and have no plans to do so,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Friday.

“At the same time, we have been clear that ISIL,” one of several acronyms for the Islamic State, “represents a threat not only to the United States, but also — and most immediately — to the entire region. We believe that all countries, regardless of their differences, should work toward the goal of degrading and ultimately defeating ISIL,” Meehan said.

Asked whether there was a role for Iran in the international coalition the administration is forming to fight the militants in Iraq and ultimately in Syria, a senior administration official this week said, “I don’t know.” But, the official acknowledged [read prevaricated] , “they already . . . have a role on the ground.”

How much of a “role”?

Iranian contributions have extended beyond weapons and advisers to the Shiite militias. Despite Tehran’s concerns about separatism within its own Kurdish community, it “was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition” to fight the militants, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said late last month during a visit of Iran’s foreign minister.

Iran is also believed to have conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said.

Airstrikes? Like the US Air Force is doing? With no direct co-ordination among the strikers?

The Washington Post hastens to make it seem that, far from there being actual co-operation, there is continuing rivalry between the US and Iran in the region. At least, there is a history of such rivalry. That, the paper implies, is what should be concentrated on, not what might be happening right now:

The United States has vied with Iran for influence in Iraq ever since the majority Shiite government was installed after the 2003 U.S. invasion that overthrew Sunni leader Saddam Hussein.

And what is more, the rivalry has been violent and much to America’s cost.

Iran was accused of supplying the improvised explosive devices, called IEDs, to the militias that used them to blow up hundreds of American soldiers during the previous decade.

In recent years, the militias have laid low as an organized force. But when the Iraqi army fled northern cities in advance of the Islamic State blitz through the country this summer, they quickly re­emerged and entered the fight. U.S. protests were largely pro forma.

When former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down under U.S. pressure last month, Iran signaled its approval by congratulating his successor and calling for an inclusive government.

The strong administration preference is for Shiite militia members — as well as Sunni tribesmen in western Iraq — to join the Iraqi security forces­ and fight the militants under the government’s banner. But U.S. officials, who were not authorized to discuss the administration’s strategy on the record, said they would take what they could get until the militants are driven back.

The United States is not the only actor on the ground that finds the situation uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable? The situation? Could the discomfort be because “the situation” is US-Iranian military co-operation?

Well, okay, but – the Washington Post would have us know – it’s not the only “actor” doing it – and feeling uncomfortable about it.

While the administration credited U.S. airstrikes with helping drive the Islamic State out of Amerli, …

What? US airstrikes helped the illegal Shiite militias – and the Iranians  – re-take the town of Amerli? Now it emerges!

…. militiamen on the ground restated their enmity toward the Americans and said the [air-]strikes were inconsequential in the victory they had won.

So even if the US did help to take back Amerli with airstrikes, they were not decisive. Both unwanted and not needed. The Shiite militias despises them. So do the Iranians. No help at all. Phooey!

Iran’s Fars News Agency said Friday that the idea that U.S. action had been decisive in Amerli was a figment of the American imagination. “The West has launched media hype to show the U.S. as the savior of Iraq,” the agency said, quoting an Iranian military source.

In any case, Iran is hotly denying that it has co-operated with the US.  And we can believe the Iranian’s, can’t we?

When the BBC reported Friday morning that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had approved cooperation with the U.S. military against the Islamic State, senior government officials quickly denied it. “It’s impossible,” Esmail Kowsari, deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told Bloomberg News.

It’s impossible so it never happened?

It’s not only possible, it happened.

The US and Iran are directly co-ordinating their battle against the Islamic State. For the present, the US and Iran are in alliance, and both are ashamed of it. 

This is a hugely significant development, and should be headline news. But apart from this low-key report full of evasions and excuses in the Washington Post, there is been nothing about it in the media that we could discover.

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Post Script: Even the Israeli press is not telling the truth about US-Iranian “confederacy”, preferring to trust the slithery lies that emanate from the US State Department. This is from Jerusalem Online:

US refused to cooperate with Iran: “We won’t share intel with them”

Tonight, the US rejected the offer of the spiritual leader of the Islamic republic, Ali Khamenei, to cooperate in action against the Jihad group in northern Iraq. “The US doesn’t share intelligence information nor acts in military cooperation with Iran”, said the State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, in a press conference. “We are open to engaging them, as we have in the past, but we are not interested in military cooperation with the Iranian leadership.”