Speaking to US television, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) has made clear that Tehran will not join the US in the fight in Iraq against the Islamic State.
The reason? Iran is insisting that the US withdraw any support for insurgents in Syria who have been battling the Assad regime.
Zarif, in New York as Iran pursues nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers, said that Iran was “not convinced that the United States government was serious” in the effort to check the Islamic State. He continued by denouncing the Obama Administration’s $500 million plan to train and arm insurgents:
You do not fight terrorism by weakening the central government which is the most important element in rejecting and opposing these terrorists. If you undermine the central government in Syria, that would enable the Islamic State terrorists to gain even more territory.
While the Obama Administration says that its $500 million — passed by Congress last week — is part of a campaign against the jihadists, Iran sees it as part of a continuing effort to overthrow the Assad regime.
Although the US began aerial operations in Iraq against the Islamic State on August 8, Iranian officials — including the Supreme Leader — have insisted that Washington created and supported the jihadists.
Ayatollah Khamenei claimed on Monday that Tehran had rejected US approaches for cooperation in the offensive against the Islamic State, who advanced through northern Iraq towards Baghdad in June.
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani continued the diatribe against the US on Sunday, telling legislators, “Basically, the structure of the US authoritarianism is interwoven with the phenomenon of terrorism, whether in Afghanistan and Pakistan or in Iraq and Syria.”
And the Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, declared today:
The Americans intend to do the same task that the Islamic State could not fulfill and topple the governments in Iraq and Syria or in other words come to the region to interfere in the regional countries’ affairs….
The regional countries, including Iran, Iraq and Syria should join hands and destroy terrorism in a durable fight against terrorism.
Military: “US Not Satisfied With Anything Less than Annihiliation of Iran”
It looks like the Iranian military is not hopeful about the nuclear talks, cooperation in Iraq, the Syrian crisis, or any other issue involving Washington.
The deputy head of armed forces, General Massoud Jazayeri, said on Sunday:
The US will not be satisfied with anything but annihilation or change in behavior of the Islamic Revolution and the only way to fight the US plots and engineering [of talks] is internal strength in Iran and its achievement of high peaks of progress in different cultural, political, military, economic, diplomatic, scientific and technological fields.
Would Iran Trade Cooperation in Iraq for US Concessions in Nuclear Talks?
Reuters offers a far different explanation of Iran’s position on cooperation with the US in Iraq against the Islamic State, claiming it is linked to the state of the talks for a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
Citing two “senior Iranian officials”, Reuters claims Tehran is privately offering to work with Washington even as publicly denounces the US-led coalition against the Islamic State. One said:
Iran is a very influential country in the region and can help in the fight against the Islamic State terrorists…but it is a two-way street. You give something, you take something.
The Islamic State is a threat to world security, not our [nuclear] program, which is a peaceful program.
The two officials restated Iran’s main line that a nuclear agreement, sought before expiry of interim arrangements on November 24, should allow for an increase in Tehran’s number and level of centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
“Both sides can show flexibility that will lead to an acceptable number for everyone,” one official said.
By EA WorldView
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