The American-led coalition against the Islamic State is gaining traction, with US Secretary of State John Kerry appealing to key Arab states for support. But one player that has so far been excluded from Washington’s efforts to fight the terrorist group has been Iran. Though its proxy Hezbollah has been fighting Sunni rebels, including the Islamic State and other al-Qaeda-linked groups, in Syria for years, Iran, to its great surprise, wasn’t invited to join the anti-ISIS club.
The reasoning? “It would not be appropriate”, stated Kerry, “for any number of reasons”. Clearly among them Iran being a designated “state sponsor of terror in various places” and whose paramilitary Quds Force is fighting in Syria. To be helping the US fight terror in Iraq would be rather outlandish..
Kerry’s move to exclude Iran from the anti-ISIS talks was widely reported by everyone from The New York Times to The Telegraph to Al Jazeera. Iran’s reaction to the snub was less widely reported – possibly because it is nothing new, considering it accused Washington in an August rant of supporting ISIS by deliberately executing airstrikes that “lack credibility”.
Just three days later, it threatened to “liberate Jerusalem” – probably through paramilitary channels – while condemning the ISIS brand of terrorism in the same breath. It also indicated that it was pursuing closer ties with other Gulf states, including Sunni Qatar, possibly in pursuit of a larger leadership role in the conflict-torn region.
This week, in the wake of Kerry’s rejection, the Iranian press was full of harsh words for Washington. One PressTV article quoted parliament speaker Ali Larijani – who was the one to accuse the US of backing ISIS – saying the new anti-terror coalition “lacks wisdom,” and another official saying it is “suspicious and not transparent.”
With the November deadline for a nuclear deal looming ahead, we wonder why the media hasn’t pointed out that with both sides hurling accusations and expressing deep suspicion toward each other, it’ll be very difficult – if not outright impossible – for them to muster up the trust required to actually ink a “good agreement”.