Terrorism is all over the news these days. From Gaza to Iraq, from Washington to Tehran, everybody’s using it liberally. About what, you ask? Everything from those wishing to topple regimes in Iraq and Syria to, well, those of the coalition fighting to uphold those regimes, namely Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran and Hezbollah.
The international community still somewhat confused about the precise definition of terrorism, particularly in Syria, where both sides have been described as such. Iran has all the answers. Everything everybody else does is terrorism, and everything they do is not. No matter that they smuggle arms, kill adversaries and uphold regimes which butcher their own innocent citizens. In the last few days, its state-affiliated media outlets have been publishing many articles on the dreaded “Islamic State”: its “blatant violation of human rights,” its “crimes against humanity,” and its actions that have “nothing to do with Islam.” No matter that they themselves are a radical Islamic state with the same attributes.
No doubt, the Islamic State’s actions are atrocious. But to presume that its Iranian-backed adversaries, Shi’ite Hezbollah, Assad, and others are any different in matters of violation of human rights, crimes against humanity, or radical interpretations of Islam, would be a gross – and dangerous – misinterpretation. The assumption that Shi’ite or Shi’ite-sympathetic terrorism is any better than Saudi-backed Sunni terrorism overlooks the fact that terrorism is about actions, not religious affiliation. While Iran states that it “won’t tolerate terror”, it continues to support it in other guises.
And the West? The Telegraph reports that Tehran is “prepared to cast aside 35 years of hostility” to join forces with Washington against terrorism, while ignoring Iran’s designation as state sponsoring terrorism. Al-Monitor’s Ali Hashemi also writes about Iran’s willingness to help. On CNBC, David Phillips is a lot more analytical, writing that “coordinating security with Iran is a pipe dream,” as “Iranian drones are already in Iraqi air space and the Quds force is on the ground in Iraq.” Overall, the tone is this: if Iran is willing to help defeat IS, it must have had a change of heart about terrorism. All depends on the definition of terrorism, apparently.