Obama sent secret letter to Iran Ayatollah urging country to work with US in fight against ISIS
By RYAN GORMAN
President Barack Obama reportedly wrote a secret letter last month to Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei looking to partner in the fight against ISIS terrorists.
Obama's letter came as Iran's deal for coming to an agreement with world leaders on its nuclear program inches closer, and appeared to also be an effort to gently push the country towards that effort, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
This was Obama's fourth olive branch extended toward the Iranian regime since assuming office in 2009, according to previous reports.
Obama's letter is seen by the Journal as a signal to the rest of the world that America sees Iran as important to the fight against ISIS – either as friend or foe.
Obama recently voiced concern the tentatively agreed-to nuclear agreement might fall apart as the deadline draws near.
"There's a sizable portion of the political elite that cut their teeth on anti-Americanism," Mr. Obama said regarding Iran during a Wednesday press briefing. "Whether they can manage to say 'Yes'... is an open question."
It also came only weeks before a largely anti-Iranian Republican majority was voted into control in the Senate.
Democrats have also recently voiced concern over agreeing to such a deal, with Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., even introducing bi-partisan legislation aimed at blocking an agreement.
"The best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is to quickly pass the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk legislation-not to give the Iranians more time to build a bomb," Kirk told the Journal.
Exact details of the letter were not disclosed to the Journal, and it is not clear if Khamenei directly responded.
"We've passed on messages to the Iranians through the Iraqi government and Sistani saying our objective is against ISIL," a senior U.S. official told the Journal. "We're not using this as a platform to reoccupy Iraq or to undermine Iran."
Previous attempts by the president to communicate with Iran have had mixed results.
Obama shared a 15-minute phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shortly after he was elected in September 2013 to replace the bombastic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Secret talks with Iran starting in 2012 and lasting into 2013 are believed to have led to the nuclear deal whose deadline is quickly approaching. American allies were not made aware of the talks until the late stages.
Two letters sent by Obama in the first few months of 2009 were not replied to directly by Khamenei, but through a go-between, according to later reports.