Iran Opposes ISIS, But Criticizes US Airstrikes Against ISIS

August 12, 2014 - 4:22 AM


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets with Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Tehran is an ally of al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-dominated government. (AP Photo, File)

( – Iran is sending mixed signals about the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq, on the one hand voicing support for its Shi’ite ally in Baghdad in its campaign against the Sunni jihadists but on the other criticizing U.S. airstrikes launched in recent days against ISIS positions in the north.

Tehran is ideologically and strategically opposed to ISIS and other Sunni jihadists fighting against the Assad regime and Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated administration. But an article this week in Keyhan, a hardline publication close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, indicated that that doesn’t translate into support for the fresh U.S. intervention in the region.

“It is hard to look at U.S. actions in the Middle East and still believe that the goal of its military deployments in Iraq is humanitarianism and not protecting U.S. interests,” it said.

“A policy as such has absolutely nothing to do with ‘humanitarianism.’ The logic of U.S. military intervention is completely based on a cynical calculation meant to boost U.S. military and corporate power in the Persian Gulf.”

Keyhan, whose editor is appointed by and serves as an advisor to Khamenei, suggested that the U.S. administration, rather than “jumping into yet another war,” should step back and allow Iraq’s politicians to solve their country’s problems.

The paper also cited a conspiracy theory that has been raised periodically by officials in Iran and Damascus in recent years – that ISIS was “created by Washington and its allies.”

“ISIL has been significantly strengthened over the past three years by the U.S. program to arm and back terrorist groups fighting to overthrow the government in Syria,” it said. “Without U.S. support in Syria, ISIL would not be overrunning Iraq right now.”

When ISIS-led Sunni fighters first began seizing territory across northern Iraq in June, Iran reacted with alarm, and quickly deployed units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force – which is responsible for the regime’s terror operations abroad – to help bolster Maliki, a longstanding ally. It also reportedly sent Qods Force head Gen. Ghasem Soleimani to Baghdad.

The shock of the ISIS advance and its capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, prompted suggestions in some quarters in the U.S. that the administration should coordinate with the Iranians in a common struggle against the jihadists.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby made it clear at the time that “there is absolutely no intention and no plan to coordinate military activity between the United States and Iran.”

Iran, the Assad regime, and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia that is fighting on behalf of Assad in the Syrian civil war, regard ISIS and other Sunni jihadists involved in the anti-Assad campaign, such as the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, as “takfiris” – a term for Muslims who consider others who do not share their religious views as infidels. Sunni radicals generally view Shi’ites in that light.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary national security and foreign policy commission, on Monday accused the U.S. of “posturing” and “putting on a show” of attacking ISIS, Iran’s state-funded Press TV reported.

The only reason it was carrying out airstrikes against the “takfiris,” he said, was to show that “it has a role to play in the region.”

“Such intervention will certainly bring no benefit to Iraq and the region.”