| 24.11,15. 11:51 PM |
Iran cannot be trusted in the fight against terrorism
By: Keyvan Salami
Despite the fact that Iran joined others in condemning the recent ISIS attack in Paris on November 13th that left 130 dead and scores wounded, such terror attacks provide Tehran an irresistible opportunity, diplomatically, to pursue its own devious objectives in the Middle East. While the international community is desperately seeking to better its anti-ISIS efforts, Iran is exploiting its very suspicious and deeply murky relations with this fanatic group of extremists that will most definitely jeopardize any and all such campaigns. One principle should never be forgotten: Iran thrives on terrorism wreaking havoc across the Middle East and beyond, and it cannot be trusted in any way in the fight to annihilate ISIS as Tehran places its interests first and foremost before establishing security in the region.
While senior Iranian government and security officials may have condemned the Paris attacks (knowing failing to do so would cost them heavily), Iran has been able to utilize the status quo in Syria to literally take control of the entire fight. As the West is seeking a new initiative to target ISIS in its Syria stronghold, Iran has been taking advantage of Russian airstrikes to target the Syrian opposition that pose the greatest threat against its ally, Bashar Assad. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Quds Force are stationing thousands of troops in Syria, along with their numerous Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi and Afghan proxies. However, Iran’s concerns of ISIS do not at all make it an adequate ally in the fight against this group.
Iran is also concerned about the West seeking to take advantage of the current situation in the Middle East to justify new wars, similar to the 9/11 scenario when US-led coalitions toppled Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran’s officials have gone as far as warning Gulf Arab states, and even the West, on supporting ISIS! Although it may seem bizarre, but Iran is known to resort to unbelievable, and at times contradictory, remarks to advance domestic and foreign policies at once. The world will never forget former Iranian regime president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his insane denial of the Holocaust.
Furthermore, Iran and the international community are seeking completely different priorities in Syria. The international community considers ISIS a much more dangerous threat than Assad, whereas Iran is bent on preventing the fall of Assad as its paramount objective in Syria. Iran has shown that the ISIS threat is secondary by willing to cooperate even with Syrian opposition groups in favor of its main aim of maintaining Assad on the throne.
ISIS mayhems have also very interestingly played into the hands of Iran. The atrocities launched by ISIS and its ridiculous ambitions of expanding an Islamic caliphate across the globe, has provided breathing room for Assad to slaughter more innocent Syrians and defend his remaining lands against armed opposition groups. Iran thrives on terror outside of its borders, and rest assured this regime will find a way to exploit it to its own interest. Washington and Paris are seeking a joint effort with Moscow in Syria against ISIS, and like it or not an unwanted side-effect will be supporting Tehran preserve Assad in power.
Another important factor vital to understand is the fact that ISIS very much undermines the credibility of any alternative to the Bashar Assad dictatorship. The very existence of ISIS in Syria provides Assad and his allies the ability to argue and campaign the international community to back the current regime in Damascus against ISIS. Tehran is also more than happy to allow ISIS battle it out with Syrian opposition forces, as this lessens the pressure on Assad and pushes back its most serious political threat.
The more complicated scene is the role played by ISIS in Iraq. Iran views it can always count on the Shiite heartlands of southern Iraq to rally against ISIS and even provide cannon-fodder soldiers when needed. In the meantime, the campaigns in western and northwestern Iraq have proven Tehran cannot defeat ISIS in its strongholds of Sunni provinces. Until a long-term strategy to defeat ISIS materializes, Iran is strangely forced to rely on its Arab foes and the West to pay the price of this fight.
Certain is the fact that Iran will never hesitate in utilizing ISIS for its own short and long term goals. In their efforts to achieve a widespread anti-ISIS front, American and European diplomats alike should not be mistaken to materealizing Tehran’s demands over Assad remaining in power indefinitely. While the West should invest on splitting Russia from Iran in Syria, even one more day with Assad in power will support Tehran’s strategic objective of establishing regional hegemony across the Middle East. This, and any trust in Iran on Syria, will end even the slightest possibility of a legitimate and practical political solution in the Levant.
Keyvan Salami , human right activist writing for peace and progress in the Middle East and regime change in Iran. He Tweets at @SalamiKeyvan