Faced with the reality of US attacks inside Syria, Iran’s top officials — including President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif — moved cautiously on Tuesday.
Since the US intervention in Iraq against the Islamic State on August 8, Iranian officials have loudly denounced the Americans, to the point of claiming that Washington created the jihadist threat which it was now attacking.
The campaign has increasingly been linked to Iran’s position with its Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad. Tehran implied that if the US wanted its support over Iraq, then the Americans had to drop their support of the Syrian insurgency.
A “senior Iranian official” said Tuesday that the US had informed Tehran of the imminent attacks inside Syria on the Islamic State. He said the Islamic Republic voiced its concern that the American missiles and bombs not hit Syrian forces:
Iran was concerned about Assad’s position and his government being weakened in case of any action against the Islamic State in Syria and brought this issue up in meetings with Americans.
This issue was first discussed in Geneva [on the sidelines of talks about Iran’s nuclear program earlier this month] and then was discussed thoroughly in New York [where US and Iranian officials are attending the UN General Assembly].
Iran was assured that Assad and his government will not be targeted in case of any military action against Daesh [Islamic State] in Syria.
A “senior US State Department official” responded:
We communicated our intentions, but not specific timing or targets, to the Iranians. As we’ve said, we won’t be coordinating military action with Iran. And of course we won’t be sharing intelligence with Iran either.
President Rouhani, in New York for the UN meetings, tried to build up Tehran’s role in discussions about Syria: “Iran is an influential power in the region and the West must understand this reality.”
Following Rouhani’s meeting with French counterpart Francois Hollande at the UN headquarters, Iranian State media declare that “the French president acknowledged Iran’s special role in fighting terrorism”.
Foreign Minister Zarif, who had been increasingly critical of the Americans over Syria in the past week, was measured in his response on Tuesday.
Zarif saw the UN special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and then said, “The fight against terrorism, whose priority has always been stressed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, has today turned into a priority for the international community.”
By EA WorldView
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