Friday, September 5, 2014

Iran and the Islamic State threat

By Paul Iddon

Any Iranian leader, government or regime, would be understandable impelled to at least support efforts to quash a threat like Islamic State in Iran's neighbour Iraq.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
One thing the present crisis in Iraq reassured me about, and there were of course very few things to be reassured about over this long hot summer whereby the Middle East is concerned, was my view that the Ayatollah Sistani is for the most part a quite productive influence in that Shia-majority country. Before the last elections in Iraq he refused to even speak with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki since he in no way wished to have his council directly or indirectly influence the political process let alone even tacitly endorse nor favour Mr. Maliki's government. Similarly, and contrary to the false and later withdrawn claims of some news agencies, he was sure to emphasis that this isn't a sectarian fight and accordingly called on the Shia faithful of Iraq to enlist in the army and beef-up and invigorate the states demoralized armed forces in order to fight off this Islamic State threat. By doing this Sistani wasn't calling for fighting fire with fire. On the contrary he was advocating measures be taken which would see to water being used in order to extinguish this dangerous raging fire and in the process prevent it from sparking other lethally dangerous fires of sectarian violence which have plagued Iraqi society in the past. 

The theocracy in Iran is also contributing to the fight against IS via very sectarian proxy militias and by other means – they were also quick to arm the Iraqi Kurds who are on the front-line in the fight against IS in Iraq, something which the KRG is quite thankful for given the circumstances they are facing. This is seeing to other sectarian Shia militias once again emerge armed on the streets of Iraq. They may likely in the not too distant future also enter Sunni neighbourhoods freshly liberated from IS control.

While one certainly wouldn't endorse or even excuse Iran use of such sectarian proxy forces in Iraq one must put this into its broader regional context before one can productively critique this role Iran is once again playing in Iraq. If Iran had a democratic, pluralistic and secular government it would more likely than not have feelers and advisers on the ground in Iraq right now in order to ascertain what's what and what it can do to see to it that IS is combated and doesn't also become a threat to Iran.

In other words when critiquing Iran's role in Iraq we have to recognize that as a regional power Iran has legitimate and understandable interests when it comes to assisting its neighbour combat such a dangerous foe like IS. We also should not hasten to forget, or cease to acknowledge, that it is the Iranian people who will more likely than not ultimately suffer from the brunt of any potential terrorist acts carried out by such a group in Iran. In the past they suffered from attacks by the Jundallah. In the future it could very well be the Islamic State if it isn't contained and combated. No government in Tehran after all could realistically ignore such a threat when there is something it could do in order to help alleviate and neuter it substantially.

This isn't a tacit approval or justification of any of the Iranian regimes activities in Iraq in the past or present. It is merely a contextualization of the present circumstances permeating throughout that region which is Iran's backyard in a geopolitical sense after all. The Iranian regimes present role there is still quite unproductive and may even serve to be dangerous to both the nations interests and its citizenry. And sadly if in the future IS or a dangerous fanatical group like it do manage to level terrorist attacks against Iran it is the Iranian people who will suffer from such attacks. The same people who already bear the burdens and hardships brought on them by the unproductive actions undertaken by the regime which presently rules over them.


Anonymous said...

good post, well-considered

B.M.A said...

WELL ! your post has many positive issues -hope you learned many things that makes at least see some positives in the IRI.But PAUL the hypocrisy of the West and IRAN'S sound and logical foreign policy is completely absent from you[Western journalists] whenever you make any attempt on the general middle East affairs.
HERE are two examples that will satisfy to show that indeed IRAN is a LAND of SAGES throughout history , and that behind any foreign policy move is some logic.

During the imposed war, the Iranian Leadership spoke to SADDAM to stop his enmity on the Iranian Nation reminding him that fighting a fellow Muslim is forbidden in the ISLAM and that befriending the West in general and the cunning BOD [-USA] in particular AGAINST fellow Muslims is like kissing a venomous snake!- the reptile will surely come around to bite you.-MANY years later these words are translated into actions by the WEST and IRAQ is bombed into stone age and poor SADDAM is slaughtered in the end.

-the citizens of SYRIA rise up against their Government to demand a regime change.SOME Western Nation jump on this mayhem to arm some elements among these democracy rioters shooting Government troops ,in that confusion the Syrian Government come to terms the sad reality that almost 6000 troops have been short by snipers among the rioters.IRAN jumps to the rescue of Assad advising the WEST that ,just as the Totalitarian monarchy in RIYADH is important for the global oil trade ,ASSAD is also important for the general stability of the middle East, AND that the middle East is a hot bed-extremists will hijack the revolution and install an intolerant Islamic state in Syria in the place of ASSAD.
As usual the BEACON of democracy comes to the AID of the RATS training and arming them,twisting facts and whipping public opinion demonizing Assad.But these same rats come back from their training in Jordan to become heartless EXTREMISTS fighting for a caliphate.WHEN a section of IRAQ falls to these people,the WEST led by the BOD comes to its senses and joins IRAN to combat the same extremism which IRAN had feared SYRIA and the middle East in general would fall into if ASSAD lost.

Unknown said...

Very good post indeed. This issue with Iran and whether they should or shouldn't help needs to be clarified because the support of Iran is vital to ensuring Iraq bolsters its defence in order to repel the threat from ISIS.

I personally believe Iran has acted with class, etiquette and above all given no reasons for others to say Iran has overstepped the mark.

If anything the likes of Iran and Russia coming very quickly to the aid of Iraq, clarrified to Baghdad who is and isn't the reliable partner.

Regarding Ayatollah Sistani and the words we are hearing, we can only admire. For his very carefully chosen words have meant that a situation which is already dangerous has not increased in danger. If anything he has given the green light for thousands of Sunni, Christian, and Yazidi to seek refuge in place like Najaf.

This is a powerful message he is sharing, he is showing that we will not go down to your level but instead will embrace diversity and help regardless.

Anonymous said...

All Abrahamic religions are as bad as each other.Remember ISIS arrived in Iran first back in 1979 with the promise of free oil,electricity and bus passes.They even advised the sheeple not to buy homes because they will be given cut price houses at favorable terms after coming to power. History has proven that not only that didn't happen but the regime extracts a litre of blood a month from every Iranian for the last 35 years of its existence.