News : Middle East
- Published: Saturday, 21 June 2014
The fact that Iran’s military efforts are now divided between Syria and Iraq suggests that these policies may actually undermine Iranian ambitions in the long term, but only if Iran does not receive substantial outside support to help it resolve these conflicts in its favor. This gives an air of tremendous importance to the fact that some US officials are publicly considering the prospect of coordinating with Iran on intervention in Iraq.
House Speaker John Boehner recently weighed in on this topic to say that such coordination should “absolutely not” take place. "I can just imagine what our friends in the region, our allies, would be thinking by reaching out to Iran at a time when they continue to pay for terrorism and foster terrorism,” the Republican congressman told reporters.
Of course, some of those allies have already made it clear what they are thinking. Israel is predictably worried about the possibility of such cooperation, mainly because they fear that it may lead to a softening of US policies towards Iran. Israeli officials recognize the expanding sphere of Iranian influence in the Middle East, but according to Thomson Reuters, they are generally less concerned about this idea of “global jihad” than they are about the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Thus, opponents of the Iranian regime are worried that US collusion with Iran in Iraq will prompt US negotiators to further soften a position that has already been subject to criticism. The fifth round of negotiations is taking place this week, one month in advance of the deadline established by last November’s interim agreement. The possibility of meeting that deadline is seriously in doubt, although assessments of the negotiations are diverse.
Recent reports indicate that Iran has softened its position on an acceptable pace of sanctions relief if a deal is struck. But Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has set red lines on some of the most fundamental points of contention, barring negotiators from compromising on things like the number of enrichment centrifuges Iran will retain. This raises the possibility that compromise on more tangential aspects of the talks may be aimed at providing the illusion of cooperation in order to encourage the West to maintain relatively friendly policy positions toward its traditional enemy.