Iran Pulse

Iran Foreign Ministry casts doubt on US coalition against IS

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Article Summary
Iran's Foreign Ministry said that the US-led coalition to fight the Islamic State includes countries that had helped fuel terrorism in the region.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has said there are “ambiguities” about the coalition US President Barack Obama presented in his speech Sept. 10 to fight the Islamic State group (IS) and accused the United States of attempting to fight IS with the same countries that helped create it.

“The coalition known as the international coalition to fight IS … is faced with serious ambiguities and there are fundamental doubts about its seriousness to fight against the root and true reasons for terrorism,” said Marzieh Afkham.

She said, “Some of the countries in the coalition are among financial and military supporters of terrorists in Iraq and Syria, and some others have reneged on their international duties.”

Afkham did not name these countries, but Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been two of the main sponsors of Syria’s armed opposition. Iran has been the main supporter of Syria’s government, along with Russia. In Iraq, Iran has supported the Shiite-led governments since the 2003 overthrow of former leader Saddam Hussein, while Saudi Arabia has kept its distance.

In his speech last night, which was short on specifics, Obama said that Saudi Arabia would provide bases for US forces to train Syrian rebels to fight against IS in Syria. He ruled out any cooperation with President Bashar al-Assad, who Obama described as having lost legitimacy.

While IS is believed to be financially independent at this point, wealthy individuals in Sunni Arab countries in the Persian Gulf have supported groups directly linked to IS and other armed groups in Syria. Their governments have been lax in stopping them until recently.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Saudi Arabia today (Sept. 11) to talk to regional countries about fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. The countries include the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. The presence of Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at the meeting in Jeddah was viewed as a positive sign in helping Saudi Arabia and Iraq ease tensions.

Some Iranian officials had previously floated the idea of US-Iran cooperation against IS in Iraq. Obama did not mention Iran during his speech, and Iranian representatives were not present at the meeting in Saudi Arabia.

Iran has been advising Iraqi forces and militias in their attempts to clear IS from areas in western Iraq they took and have controlled since early June. Iran also sent arms to Kurdish forces fighting IS in Iraq.

Afkham criticized what she called “double standards and discriminatory use of terrorism,” which she said has only created more terrorism and extremism across the world.

She said that instead of a “presentation” to combat terrorism, an act she said that was meant only “clean [these countries'] history of support for terrorism,” they should prove their honesty in a group and widespread effort to fight terrorism and end the double standards.

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Found in: us middle east policy, us-iranian relations, terrorism, islamic state, iran’s regional influence, international community

Arash Karami is a contributor to Al-Monitor. On Twitter: @thekarami

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