When it comes to Iran, there is a very long history, as old as the Islamic revolution of 1979, of the Western propaganda against Tehran laying it out thick and in rich fantasies. No matter the ‘feel-good’ P5+1 and Iran talks, this malicious propaganda continues. Iran shrugs its shoulders and calls it ‘psywar’, but the gullible world opinion in all innocence often laps it up.
The first big story this past week was that Iran has landed troops in Iraq to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] fighters. The Wall Street Journal spearheaded the disinformation drive, probably with the intent to queer the pitch for the US president Barack Obama to ‘do something’.
The US of course has the intelligence sources, electronic and human, to assess the real ground situation. And in any case, the Iranians came down like a ton bricks on the WSJ and scattered the rumor.
Then came the second wave of attack: US and Iran are going to ‘cooperate’ in Iraq. The Reuters floated the story first quoting an unnamed Iranian official (who could be anyone.) To be sure, it is a fiery news — Great Satan and and Persians standing shoulder to shoulder in the Mesopotamian barricades to fight the al-Qaeda. The world media lapped it up in no time. The US secretary of state John Kerry added more fuel to the fire, by encouraging the speculation to rise to dizzying heights. The world media has gone tizzy — even Indian media.
As it happens always when it comes to Iran, however, there is a virtual blackout of the Iranian version by the Western media.
Whereas, a primary thumb rule is that it requires two to tango. Now, where is the Persian dancer? The point is, he isn’t even on the stage where Kerry is standing alone, looking forlorn.
A good close look at Tehran’s pronouncements through the past week actually gives a vastly different story than what Kerry would have liked us to believe. Let me quote a few top-ranking Iranian officials:
A) Presdient Hassan Rouhani (June 9 at Ankara): Violence and terrorism have grown more complicated due to the interference of trans-regional powers.”
B) DFM Hossein Amir Abdollahian (June 10): The role of certain “foreign sides” in the Mosul events is obvious. “Those sides which are supporting Takfiris should be seriously concerned about anti-security measures by this terrorist current in their own countries.”
C) Commander of Iran’s Basij, Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqudi (June 11): i) Takfiri groups commit crimes in line with the ominous goals of the arrogant powers and obey the Western and israeli think tanks as they are supported by certain regional Arab countries’ petrodollars. ii) “Saudi Arabia is equipping terrorists in Syria with different light and heavy weapons in breach of all international regulations and conventions.” iii) Takfiri and Salafi groups in different regional states, especially in Syria and Iraq, are supported by the US. iv) The US is manipulating the Takfiri terrorists to tarnish the image of Islam and Muslims.
D) Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham (June 11): Urged immediate stop in support of the terrorist groups by certain states and called on all countries to adopt collective measures to fight terrorism.
E) DFM Hossein Amir Abdollahian (June 11): “We will mightily support Iraq in its confrontation with terrorism.”
F) Speaker of the Majlis Ali Larijani ((June 13): “It is obvious that the Americans and the countries around is have made such moves… Terrorism has grown into an instrument for the big powers to advance their goals.”
G) President Rouhani (June 13): i) “If the Iraq government wants help, we will study it… Of course, help and assistance is one thing and interference and going to the battlefront is another… The entry of Iranian troops (on battlefront in Iraq) has never been considered… we have never sent our troops to another country fro operations… If a terrorist groups approaches our borders, we will certainly confront it. ii) Warned those states which are providing financial back-up and arms to the ISIL and other terrorist groups and cautioned that these groups would return to set fire on those countries as well. iii) Dismissed the Reuters report of US-Iranian cooperation over Iraq. “The Americans might want to do something, but I am not informed about it.” iv) The recent events in Iraq are because the terrorist groups are mad at the results of the Iraqi election which have kept the Shi’ites and Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in power through democratic means.
H) Ala’eddin Broujerdi, chairman of the Majlis foreign and security policy commission (June 14): “The US support, arms shipments and military training (of Takfiri groups) is the root cause of the spread of terrorism and inhumane crimes in the region… The Muslim Ummah needs to put an end to the US interventions in the region.”
I) Commander of Basij, Gen. Mohammed Naqdi (June 14): The ISIL attacks in Iraq are a new US plot after Washington was defeated in the confrontation with the resistance groups in the region. The US faced defeat in the confrontation and plots against Iran’s allies in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, and now “they have started the same experience in Iraq… A huge popular force has rushed to the region which will foil their ominous plots.” These popular forces that have been formed in the regional states have now grown into a chain stretching across the Middle East.
J) FO spokesperson Afkham (June 14) : Iran opposes any military interventions in Iraq. “Iraq has the required potentials and military prepared ness to fight the terrorist and extremist elements… Any move that complicates the situation in Iraq will not be in the interests of Iraq and the region.”
K) FM Mohammed Zarif in interview with New Yorker magazine: “It is in the interest of everybody to stabilize the government of Iraq. If the US has come to realize that these groups [ISIL] pose a threat to the security of the region, and if the US truly wants to fight terrorism and extremism, then it’s a common global cause.”
L) Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (June 15): Lashed out at Washington for the creation of the ISIL. Strongly refuted reports of likely US-Iran cooperation over Iraq; such reports are part of the West’s ‘psywar’ against Iran and are “completely unreal.” Creating terror and instability and inciting armed and violent campaign against the will of the (Iraqi) people, as manifest in the free and fair elections in Iraq, are among the US objectives behind establishing terrorist groups such as the ISIL. The US and some of its allies have financial, intelligence and logistic cooperation to implement such a policy. Called on the Iraqi Shias, Sunnis and Kurds to remain vigilant against plots by foreign powers and to defend their country. Any Iranian help for Iraq will be on a bilateral basis “and it has nothing to do with a third country.”
M) Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani (June 16): The western and regional states are responsible for the present crisis in Iraq.
Given the above unequivocal pronouncements by Tehran through the past one-week period, it seems highly improbable, to say the least, that there could be any overt US-Iranian “cooperation” or coordination over Iraq. The fact of the matter is that Tehran sees an American hand, directly or indirectly, in the ascendancy of the Saudi-sponsored extremist islamist groups such as the ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Equally, Tehran has no faith in the US’ willingness and capacity to make a clean departure from its past policies in Syria and Iraq and, more importantly, to confront Saudi Arabia. Of course, it is a different matter if the Obama administration takes a bold decision to depart from the past trajectory of the US policies toward Syria and Iraq; in such an eventuality, Tehran will respond positively. But it is difficult to see that happening anytime soon.
The Obama presidency today is so badly battered in the US domestic politics that the White House won’t have the political will today to reset so audaciously the US’ Middle East policies in a virtually contrarian direction overnight by reading the riot act to its regional allies, especially Saudi Arabia. Iran is quite capable of comprehending the geopolitical reality devolving upon the US-Saudi alliance. In sum, Tehran would have misgivings about the US’ intentions.
The extreme caution with which Tehran is moving on Iraq developments suggests that it is wary of getting entrapped in a sectarian quagmire that would have profound consequences to Iran’s regional standing as a whole.
Tehran doesn’t see a convergence of interests with the US as of now over the Iraq situation. From its perspective, Shi’ite empowerment in Iraq is non-negotiable. It also seems in no mood to agree to a change of leadership in Baghdad at this juncture.
The ball is in Obama’s court to convince Tehran that he is now prepared to rein in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey with all the influence at the command of the US and to truly opt for a war on terror. Can Obama pull it off — even if he wants to?
Indeed, Tehran won’t be rigid and will be prepared to discuss Iraq with anyone for putting across its concerns. Therefore, informal contacts between the US and Iran cannot be ruled out. Obama seems genuinely probing the possibilities. The British Foreign Secretary William Hague had a telephonic conversation with Zarif. Britain is always there to act as a go-between for Washington in such awkward moments.
– June 17, 2014