News : Middle East

Militant Threats: Iran and the ISIS

By INU staff

INU- Can Iran be viewed as an ally in the battle against ISIS? In an editorial that appeared in the Washington Post last Friday, three prominent foreign policy experts argued that even in spite of the rise of ISIS, the Iranian regime remains the most serious threat to long-term stability in the Middle East. The editorial by Dennis Ross, Eric Edelman, and Ray Tayekh anticipated and discounted Iranian attempts to work with the US against Sunni militants. The authors remind us that in the past Iran has participated in attacks against US forces and Western interests whenever it was confident that it was not in danger of direct retribution.

This reminder is in keeping with the observations made in an article in the National Interest, which highlights Iran’s inconsistent approach to dealing with Sunni militants. The article points out that Tehran’s regional policy has always been guided by pragmatic pursuit of the expansion of its influences. Shiite ideology has traditionally been secondary to this, so Iran has either ignored or actively supported Sunni militant groups at various times.

The ideological component of Iran’s confrontation with IS raises questions about how well that confrontation can be brought into line with Western interests. The same question is raised by Iran’s historical inconsistency in dealing with Sunni militants. This is ironic in light of the fact that Tehran has been attempting to cast doubt upon the seriousness of the American commitment to the fight against IS. The Iranian propaganda network, Press TV tied these accusations to the popular uprising against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Quoting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Press TV suggested that American support for this uprising was tantamount to support for terrorism.

Such commentary from the Iranian regime naturally ignores that the Iranian-supported Assad regime is known to have used chemical weapons and targeted civilian populations – actions that are sufficient to brand his regime as state terrorists.

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