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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"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."
President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.
In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."
President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.