US considers talks with Iran over security situation in Iraq
The Obama administration is considering talks with Iran to support the Iraqi government and boost security after an insurgency of Sunni Islamists on Sunday.
The move comes after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) posted “horrifying” images of mass execution of Shiite members of Iraq’s security forces online.
The Iraqi military have confirmed the images are real, but their authenticity is yet to be independently confirmed.
Fighters from the ISIS have rapidly advanced through most Sunni areas in Iraq, taking captive of several cities including Mosul and Tikrit.
The US and Iran – two countries that do not usually see eye-to-eye – are now considering discussions and possible military action.
Talks are due early this week during the planned negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear programme in Vienna.
US secretary of state John Kerry told Yahoo News: “The US may be willing to talk to Iran to combat a Sunni Islamist uprising. We’re open to discussions if there is something constructive that can be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq.”
When asked about the likelihood of air strikes from the US, Kerry added: “They’re not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important. When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that and you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise.”
Following Kerry’s comments, the Pentagon released a series of statements ruling out military action.
Pentagon spokesman Bill Speaks told the Guardian: “There has been no contact, nor are there plans for contact, between the Department of Defence and the Iranian military on the security situation in Iraq.”
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani mentioned in his speech “a willingness to co-operate if the US takes action in Iraq”.
Mr Rouhani said: “We have not seen the US do anything for now. Any time the Americans start to take action against terrorist groups, we can consider that.”