Rouhani’s remarks apparently sought to delegitimize the US role, as compared to the role of the Iranian regime and its allies in Syria, both of whom are fighting their own wars with the Islamic State near their own borders. But ironically, by urging the US to follow the Iranian lead in fighting the Islamic State, Rouhani may actually be trying to avoid having to make certain sacrifices of its own.
Iran has certainly sent Quds Force fighters to the Iraqi battlefield, but it refuses to relinquish its support for the Assad regime, which is opposed by the US, the Islamic State, and moderate Sunni groups inside the country. Iran is likely not strong enough to simultaneously defend its interests in Iraq and Syria, and its best means of holding onto both may depend on the US deciding to ignore or defend the Assad regime in the interest of defeating IS.
But the New York Post also points out that this outcome has become less likely, in that the US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to authorize plans to train and arm moderate rebels in Syria, in hopes that they will be able to fight the Assad regime and the Islamic State at once.
This, however, does not mean that the United States is already firmly fixed on a policy that it considers best for the conflict. Some uncertainty was expressed by Secretary of State John Kerry when he considered the possibility of the US failing in its confrontation of IS. Honest Reporting highlighted this as its top story on Thursday and indicated that Kerry said the task could fall to Iran and Syria in that case.
But Honest Reporting also suggested that this was likely a short-sighted view of the situation in that it ignores other potential players. These of course include Israel and the various Sunni nations that are already parts of the US coalition against IS. That coalition may not even be complete if there remains a possibility for it to welcome in non-state actors such as moderate resistance groups.