Iran is so worried by the territory gains made by militants in Iraq that anti-insurgency cooperation with Washington is possible, an Iranian official said.
The option of cooperating with the United States in providing military assistance to the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad is being debated among senior Iranian government figures, a high-ranking Tehran official told Reuters in a Friday report. The military aid would likely entail dispatching advisers and arms to Baghdad, but not troops. The White House declined to comment on the possibility of collaborating with Iran to shore up the embattled Iraqi government, the New York Times reported.
The United States and Iran have been at odds for decades. Washington has repeatedly warned it is not taking off the table the threat of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. However, recent multinational talks aimed at reaching a lasting compromise on Tehran’s nuclear activities have opened the door for smoother relations.
The remarkably swift takeover by an al-Qaida breakaway group of so much Iraqi territory this week has taken aback both Iran and the United States. The ideology of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria calls for the establishment of a strict Sunni caliphate that spans the borders of Syria and Iraq. Washington is concerned about the destabilizing impact the group’s influence would have on a number of key Middle Eastern countries. Officials also worry that the organization could inspire and train extremist fighters in mounting terrorist strikes on the United States and Europe. Tehran, meanwhile, fears that ISIS militants will attack Shiite shrines in Iraq and replace a government in Baghdad that is friendly with Iran with one that is deeply hostile.
A number of al-Qaida-inspired groups have emerged in recent years in the Middle East and Africa, dampening the optimism of 2011 that — following the death of Osama bin Laden — the United States was on the verge of vanquishing the threat posed by the international terrorist network.
Ex-U.S. State Department counterterrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin told Reuters he was “considerably more optimistic 18 months ago than … now” about the danger posed by al-Qaida-affiliated groups.
Meanwhile, Egypt has sent several hundred troops to an area close to the Taba border checkpoint with Israel. The action, which has the support of the Israeli government, is a response to concerns that al-Qaida-inspired extremists operating in the Sinai Peninsula region could use anti-aircraft missiles smuggled out of Libya to attack Israeli passenger planes, the Times of Israel reports.
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Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."
Conrad Burns, the colorful livestock auctioneer and radio executive from Montana who served three terms as a senator, died on Thursday at age 81. Burns "was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to "super-lobbyist" Jack Abramoff," although no charges were ever filed.
In an exchange not ripped from the page of The Onion, Vice President Biden revealed to a Vatican cardinal that he's been betting reporters on which cars are faster. After meeting privately with Pope Francis, Biden met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. Within moments of greeting one another, Biden said that he'd met with the pope and, gesturing to the press pool, "I've met with these guys too." Singling out reporter Gardiner Harris, who recounted the exchange, he said, "I had to pay this man $10. He's from the New York Times. We had a bet: which is the faster car, the newer Cadillac or the new [Tesla]. ... The Tesla's two tenths of a second faster. But I lost. I paid my $10." He joked that he's "seeking absolution."