We Had Warned US about Daesh
June 22, 2014 – Sara Massoumi
Iranian Diplomacy recently spoke with Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs, about Iran’s security and political measures to contain the crisis in Iraq, Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia and potential regional cooperation between the two countries, the issue of Iran-US cooperation, and the latest status of Syria’s political dossier.
The most important regional crisis that has somehow involved Iran is the emergence and advances of Daesh in Iraq. What security and political measures has the Islamic Republic of Iran taken to contain this crisis?
From the beginning of Daesh’s activities in Mosul and its attempts to create insecurity in Iraq, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran has established dialogues in the region. Besides the regional officials, we have had contacts with the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. We have made efforts to use all of our capacities and capabilities in our talks with the foreign ministers and other diplomatic officials of the region, including the political officials of Iraq’s Foreign Ministry. We have tried to provide our Iraqi friends with our diplomatic and political experience so that they could contain the crisis. The fact is that Iraq currently has a great chance of containing the crisis, particularly after the fatwa issued by the Maraje’. What happened with regard to the presence of Daesh in Mosul was a plan involving treason which was executed by some internal forces in Iraq. Based on the information that we have received, the Daesh forces were not resisted against at the time of their arrival in this city and were able to occupy the city without any clashes. Some of the military commanders who were in Mosul rapidly surrendered with previous coordination and the city fell into the hands of these forces. Of course, all of the realities of the incidents that have happened in Iraq are not related to Daesh and a part of them are related to the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime who were involved in this issue.
Daesh is not a national threat for any particular country. It is a threat which started from Syria and has reached Iraq today and will then reach another destination. Does Iran have any plans to hold a regional meeting with the presence of countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey in this regard? Don’t you think that there is a need today for regional cooperation to contain this movement?
During the past three years and considering the developments in Syria, we had continued contact with the regional, extra-regional and western countries and had even indirectly sent messages to the US with regard to this issue. The important point is that a collection of elements was involved in the formation of Daesh in Syria and the region which has now spread in Iraq. In a more accurate look, we realize that the radical movements, especially the al-Nusra front and Daesh, were established in Syria but some movements which were related to al-Qaeda such as Ahzab-ul-Islam have been active in this country since the time of the US’ entrance into Iraq. What regional and international elements inside Syria caused Daesh to organize its forces? The main component was that the providing of arms and the facilitation of Daesh’s movements by some countries inside the region and outside the region, particularly the US, strengthened this movement. We warned the US many times that these arms and the people who enter Syria with different nationalities especially from Europe and the US under the name of radical movements are serious threats not only for Syria but also for the entire region. Since the US tactic in Syria was to use all means to overthrow the government of Bashar Assad and change the political system of this country, it attempted to strengthen these groups and these groups had contacts with the US systematically or through regional mediators or intelligence services. The significant issue in Iraq is that the conditions in Iraq are different from those in Syria. The possibility of similar advances in Iraq to those made by Daesh in Syria during the past three years is very dim. The news that we have received indicates that the advances made by Daesh have been stopped since three days ago and there are only sporadic clashes in some Iraqi regions. Of course, Mosul is still under their control and Daesh is considered as a serious threat for Iraq and there is the possibility of its spread to other countries as well. The Daesh and al-Qaeda forces have stated that their next target is Jordan.
There are reports in the western media stating that Iran has dispatched military forces to Iraq. Would you confirm these reports?
We have not dispatched any military forces to Iraq. What I mean by military forces is that we have not dispatched any combat forces to fight inside Iraq. The Iraqi officials needed counseling on some issues and some counseling was done with regard to the issue of fighting against the terrorists and political issues. We must not forget that we are talking about a country like Iraq which has an organized army.
But some army commanders cooperated with Daesh in the developments in Mosul.
Yes, it is true that one of the Iraqi brigades and part of its military forces in Mosul surrendered due to, in our opinion, the compromise which was made between the commanders of that brigade and some internal, regional and extra-regional movements, but the same point is not true about other brigades in Iraq. The second point is that there are certain capacities from the past, such as the Badr Brigade and Jeish-ul-Mahdi and certain movements which are well-organized and have experiences which could be used for the establishment of security in their regions. The third point is that the government was able to immediately control the situation. Based on our information, a think tank does exist in the US’ security apparatus which plans and organizes these issues and the rest of the regional and domestic parties in Iraq merely execute these plans and each one has entered the scene with its own intentions. The planning of Daesh’s operations was such that this situation would be formed when Iraq entered a political vacuum. Based on these plans, this crisis was formed exactly three days before the end of the parliament’s term and at a time when the Higher Judicial Council had not yet confirmed the final results of the elections. Fortunately, this matter was resolved three days ago. Therefore, Iraq’s situation does not necessitate military aid. That is why we have serious reservations about the entrance of any foreign forces into Iraq. We believe that the political Shiite, Sunni and Kurd leaders of Iraq have actively entered the scene. Furthermore, last week we had very good talks with Nechervan Barzani in Tehran and the Kurdish movements are well aware of the threats of Daesh and the need to provide the security of the Kurds in Iraq. On this basis, we do not see any need for the presence of any foreign forces including those of the US.
Nonetheless, the US is an extra-regional force and perhaps the military return of this country to Iraq would not be beneficial from many aspects. Iran’s situation is very different and our common border with Iraq has added to internal concerns about the possibility of the spread of these unrests to our country. Would you still prevent the military entrance of Iran into this crisis if the objective is defending Iran and if the Iraqi army is not able, for any reason, to contain the spread of this issue?
It is natural that if a request is made by Iraq within the framework of international laws and that a special situation is formed in that country, we will do whatever is necessary to defend the national security of our country.
Do you believe that, at this stage of its activities in Iraq and not its days in Syria, Daesh is still supported by the regional powers?
Unfortunately it enjoys the financial, intelligence and logistic support of some of the countries of the region.
Have you taken any specific measures to contain this type of support?
We have had much dialogue with the countries of the region. We have frankly said to some countries which logistically support this group that security is not separable. It cannot be said that a terrorist group could be used to achieve some of your objectives today but that the security of your country would not be threatened in the future. I believe that there are numerous complexities with regard to the issue of Daesh, one of which is that the composition of the Daesh forces is multinational. Perhaps more than 40% of the forces who are active in this terrorist group have come from Europe and the US. Each one of them could be a threat to the national security of these countries when they return to their homelands. There was a case in Syria where those people who had come from Europe and fought in Syria were arrested upon their return to their country while they were training other forces to make bombs in Europe. This is certainly not news which would concern only Syria, Iraq or our region. This is an issue which threatens the entire international system.