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On Iraq, Obama Tells Congress Deploying 275 For Now, No Iran Coordination

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 -- It's on, US in Iraq -- back to the future? Under the War Powers Resolution, US President Obama on June 16 told Congress of a June 15 deployment to Iraq:

"Starting on June 15, 2014, up to approximately 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed.

"This action has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148)."

   Pentagon Press Secretary RADM John Kirby added:

"Over the weekend, a number of teams totaling approximately 170 U.S. personnel began arriving in Baghdad from within the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. We have also moved approximately 100 personnel into the region to provide airfield management, security, and logistics support, if required."

Also on June 16, while the US met with Iran about ISIL in Iraq, there was NO discussion of "military coordination or strategic determinations," 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 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."

  The official said that "World Cup fever has presented itself here in Vienna." Today Iran play Nigeria, and the US plays Ghana (with Vice President Biden in attendance).

  Asked again about Iraq, the official said that the situation in Ukraine hadn't impacted the P5+1 talks. Inner City Press wonders if, with the blocking in the UN Security Council of Russia's proposed statement on the attack on its embassy in Kyiv, that might change.

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