The US and Iran took the first steps for their military cooperation in Iraq on June 16, at the same time as Israel declared war on Tehran’s Palestinian ally, Hamas, in the wake of a fruitless four-day sweep of the West Bank Hebron region for the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on June 12, and the detention of hundreds of Hamas activists — which Israel leaders said was just the beginning.
The talks between Washington and Tehran on working together in Iraq (A prospect first envisaged by DEBKA Weekly 639 on June 14) were revealed Monday by Secretary of State John Kerry who told a Yahoo interviewer that the US is “open to discussing any constructive process here… Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements. I would not rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability.”
He also said that President Obama was vetting “every option that is available,” including drone strikes.
But, for once, reality moved ahead of diplomatic caution.
Overnight, President Obama informed Congress that up to 275 troops could be sent to Iraq to provide support and security for US personnel and the American Embassy in Baghdad,which with a staff of 5,000 is the largest in the world. About 170 of those forces are already in Iraq.
DEBKAfile: That is only the first step, to be followed by more. US naval, air and Marine forces are assembling in the Persian Gulf ready to go in.
Ahead of them, Iran sent at least 2,000 troops and the Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimeni to Baghdad.
Monday, The Iraqi crisis deteriorated further when ISIS seized Tal Afar, a key city on the Syrian border for its Islamist state which is planned to span Iraq and Syria.
US and British sources report that Washington and Tehran are in practical talks on their respective roles: One proposal is for the US to provide air cover for Iranian ground troops and support in the form of air strikes against Al Qaeda targets.
The repercussions of this collaboration may at some point intersect with Israel’s long-delayed confrontation with Tehran’s Palestinian proxy, Hamas.
Israel’s leaders issued a blunt declaration of war on the Palestinian Hamas Tuesday, June 16, when the three Israeli teenagers remained missing. The mass detentions of Hamas activists was just the start of the pressure aimed at crushing their organization’s terrorist infrastructure, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, declared after their latest situation update.
More and tougher military operations were coming until the mission was accomplished — however grave the consequences and however long it takes, they said.
The chief of staff also made it clear that the IDF stands ready to hit back at Hamas’ Gaza strongholds in the event of a Hamas rejoinder to the harsh pressure clamped down on its West Bank organization.