Kerry Is Open to Talks With Iran as Situation Worsens in Iraq

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Claims of a massacre carried out by the radical Sunni group ISIS along with images of Iraqi soldiers being executed has raised greater alarm about the already deteriorating situation in Iraq.

Over the weekend, Twitter suspended the account linked to the al-Qaeda-inspired militant group, which has recently captured several towns and cities across northern and western Iraq, after the group posted pictures of what was reported to be the slaughter of 1,700 Shiite soldiers. Though the mass execution is still unverified, the captured men were said to be loyal to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and were taunted as such in the captions of the photos. 

The filthy Shiites are killed in the hundreds,” one read. “The liquidation of the Shiites who ran away from their military bases,” read another, and, “This is the destiny of Maliki’s Shiites.”

 In reaction to recent events, the leading Iraqi Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on volunteers to defend religious sites as well as the city of Baghdad, which ISIS was nearing by the end of last week. What seemed like an inevitable ISIS invasion of the capital city was repelled in clashes over the weekend and the group instead fell back to solidify the gains made across other sections of the country.

It's being reported that the group captured the city of Tel Afar, just west of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, which was dramatically taken by ISIS forces last week.  

Meanwhile, the international community is grappling with how to deal with the chaos, which has fallen largely along sectarian lines and has blurred the borders between Iraq and Syria. Most notably, the United States dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to lend itself some military options should the use of force be determined. Debate has already begun about the extent to which the United States should get involved. Last Friday, President Obama explained that there are no plans to send American troops into Iraq...again. 

The situation has also given Iran and the United States, bitter enemies for 35 years now, something recently unprecedented: a common enemy. Despite insurmountable mistrust, the communication lines between the two countries are opening beyond the wrangling over Iran's nuclear program. Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham, a prominent Iran hawk, told the Sunday morning shows that the United States needs to work with Iran to help fix Iraq, (surreally) likening the situation to American cooperation with Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany during World War II. 

Lo and behold, American Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to cautiously embrace the idea Monday morning, telling Yahoo News that he would "not rule out anything that would be constructive" and that Washington was "open for discussions."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.