File photo: SL Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani
According to AFP:
Iran said Monday it rejected a US request for its cooperation against the jihadist Islamic State as part of an international coalition whose true aim Tehran sees as regime change in Syria.
Seen from Tehran, which has helped both Damascus and Baghdad to confront IS advances, the coalition lacks credibility because some of its members had financed and armed the group as part of their campaign to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Right from the start, the United States asked through its ambassador in Iraq whether we could cooperate against Daaesh," Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei said in a statement on his official website, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
"I said no, because they have dirty hands," said Khamenei...
He accused Washington of seeking a "pretext to do in Iraq and Syria what it already does in Pakistan -- bomb anywhere without authorisation."
At the end of a Paris conference on coordinating the fight against IS, to which Iran and Syria were not invited, the United States said Monday it was opposed to military cooperation with Iran in Iraq but was open to further talks.COMMENTARY: More detailed aspects of Iran's current view of the U.S.-led war against ISIL are not hard to deduce.
American strategists are seeking a maximalist regional political yield from the crisis generated by ISIL. By the fact that the might of American tactical airpower and logistical support are indispensable in the war against ISIL (Iraqi theater), the opportunity has arisen where a number of foreign policy goals in the region are now seen-- from the American perspective-- to be within reach.
One such goal has been the establishment of American preferences in the composition of the Iraqi government-- that's now achieved. Another goal is regime change in Syria-- and in so doing attain the realize yet another goal, the rollback of Iranian influence in the region.
This is the root cause for the apparent anger in Khamenei's tone.
Although Khamenei referenced Pakistan for the relative free hand of American airpower, it's easy to see that Iranian strategists are concerned with another type of intervention: overwhelming application of tactical airpower, as was the recent case of NATO intervention in Libya that successfully resulted in regime change. This time, the Iranians are seen to believe the intervention will be U.S.-led and applied to Syria.
Of immediate concern for Tehran may be the potentialial severing of the logistical air corridor between Iran and Syria (and by extension, Lebanon), which is an incremental step toward the realization of American goal of regime change in Syria and the rollback of Iran in the region. The attainment of American political preferences in the composition of the Iraqi government certainly makes this step a possibility.
The Iranians are not going to sit still. While they possess significant political and militia levers inside Iraq, Syria on the other hand-- weakened by years of conflict and by its relative remoteness to Iran--appears potentially more vulnerable, under conditions of direct American military intervention.