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TEL AVIV – The deployment of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to Iraq came after the Obama administration quietly gave its approval of the Shiite troop movement, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The Obama administration pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to allow battalions of the Quds Force to aid the Iraqi military in its fight against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
The Quds Force is special unit of the Revolutionary Guard responsible for international operations.
According to numerous press reports the Iranian forces were dispatched Thursday to fight in Tikrit, which was initially held by the ISIS but was subsequently liberated by the Iraqi army with help from Iran.
The Wall Street Journal reported two Guards’ units were further tasked with protecting Baghdad and the Shiite holy sites in the cities of Karbala and Najaf.
Obama’s actions give clarity to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s statement on June 12 that Iran could play a “constructive” role in Iraq.
“Clearly, we’ve encouraged them in many cases to play a constructive role,” she said. “But I don’t have any other readouts or views from our end to portray here today.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., further told CNN the U.S. should work with Iran to fight the Sunni extremists who could overrun Iraq. He compared such cooperation with the U.S. working with Joseph Stalin during World War II.
“The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn’t fall. We need to coordinate with the Iranians and the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game, form a new government without [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al] Maliki,” Graham added on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The direct military involvement of Iran, however, could trigger larger regional Shiite-Sunni clashes and may even represent the start of a proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Shiite leadership of Tehran.
WND reported last week that, according to Jordanian and Syrian regime sources, Saudi Arabia has been arming the ISIS and that the Saudis are a driving force in supporting the al-Qaida-linked group.
The Jordanian regime sources told WND they fear the sectarian violence will spill over into their own country as well as into Syria.
ISIS previously posted a video on YouTube threatening to move on Jordan and “slaughter” King Abdullah, whom they view as an enemy of Islam:
The Jordanian sources explained Obama's reported initial reluctance to assist in airstrikes in Iraq. The sources claimed striking along the Iraq-Syria border would cut off the supply line to rebels fighting in Syria.