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As Obama Cites Iran "Hot & Heavy" In Syria, In Iraq No Advance Notice

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 19 -- When US President Barack Obama spoke about Iraq on June 19 he said, "if Iran is coming in solely as an armed force on behalf of the Shia... then that probably worsens the situation."

   In a background call after Obama's remarks, Senior Administration Officials put more distance between the US and Iran, saying there will be no military coordination (including advance notice of any air strikes), and that it is not anticipated that Secretary of State Kerry will be meeting with the Iranians during his upcoming trip.

  Obama pointed to Syria and said that its problems were caused in part by Iran coming in "hot and heavy" on one side. One wondered, what about Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Turkey?

  Inner City Press at noon on June 19 asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric for any UN or Secretary General Ban Ki-moon view on the US seeking UN Security Council approval for military action in Iraq.

  Dujarric noted that Obama would be speaking and said he did not want to get in front of that. Clearly not. Nor on Libya's complaint about the US seizing Abu Khattalah.

  The US Senior Administration Officials cited Khattalah, as will as military strikes in Somalia and Yemen. They were asked, insistently, if there will be small teams sent in to call in air strikes. One thing we know: the Iranian would not be told in advance.

Background: On June 16 a Senior State Department Official told the press, "We are open to engaging the Iranians, just as we are engaging other regional players on the threat post by ISIL in Iraq. The issue did come up briefly with Iran on the margins of the P5+1 in Vienna today, separate from our trilateral meeting. These engagements will not include military coordination or strategic determinations about Iraq’s future over the heads of the Iraqi people. We will discuss how ISIL threatens many countries in the region, including Iran, and the need to support inclusivity in Iraq and refrain from pressing a sectarian agenda."

  Earlier on June 16 a US Senior Administration Official told reporters the issue does not give Iran more leverage, while talks about Iraq may occur "on the margins," that is separate from the P5+1 process.

  Asked of timing, the US official said "we are all focused on July 20... we can get this done." And now?

  And as set forth before, how Francois Hollande's and Laurent Fabius' open lobbying for BNP Paribas and its violation of Iran sanctions might still have an impact as well.

 Fabius has said that Iran wants hundreds of thousands of centrifuges and that France is drawing the line there, copying itself from 2013.

   But how strange: Francois Hollande and Fabius defend BNP Paribas' violation of Iran sanctions, while loudly playing hardball. Playing is the operative word. 

   With the July 20 deadline to conclude the Iran nuclear talks looking more uncertain, early on June 7 the US State Department announced that “Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman will travel to Geneva for consultations with Iranian officials on June 9-10.”

  Beyond the two days' relation to the July 20 deadline, they also come as Iran sanctions violations by BNP Paribas are being actively defended by French president Francois Hollande and foreign minister Laurent Fabius.

  These June 9-10 US - Iran meetings was called a bilateral and other US attendees were named, including Brooke Anderson, previously at the US Mission to the UN, and Jake Sullivan, who was with Vice President Biden at Petro Poroshenko's inaugural in Kyiv on June 7.

  Then Iranian bilaterals with Russia and China, each separately, were announced. The question was raised June 7 by Inner City Press: what about France and the UK? What about the European Union?

  The EU quickly announced that its Helga Schmid will also play a role -- or “join” -- in Geneva. EU spokesperson Michael Mann said, “The US will hold a bilateral with the deputy chief Iranian negotiator in Geneva next week. EU Political Director Helga Schmid will join. Other bilaterals will follow in the next days.”

  So when is a bilateral meeting NOT a bilateral?

  Soon a US Senior Adminstration Official on background responded to questions: “As we've said - and as the EU just noted - these talks are intensifying. The P5+1 and the EU have been in total coordination throughout these talks, including regarding bilateral discussions. As such, EU Political Director Helga Schmid will join in Geneva as well.”

  So again: when is a bilateral no longer a bilateral? Will France itself try to participate, with Jacques Audibert's replacement Nicolas de Riviere a/k/a Flippy Nic?

  How to compare France's hard-line position on Iran and sanctions violations now that Francois Hollande and Laurent Fabuis are actively defending sanctions violations, not only to Sudan but also Iran, by BNP Paribas? A new dynamic? Watch this site.


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