joins Iraq to reverse advances of Islamic extremists
Earnest June 13, 2014
Newscast Media TEHRAN—Iranian government officials including President Hassan Rohani have
expressed readiness to help the government of their Iraqi ally, Nuri
al-Maliki, fight the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the
Levant (ISIL) amid Western media reports that the country's powerful
Revolutionary Guard has already dispatched forces to Iraq.
Rohani warned that Tehran is not ready to stand by and tolerate the
recent violence in Iraq. He did not elaborate on the time and measures
Iran could take to assist Maliki. Iran's police chief, Esmail Ahmadi
Moghadam, was quoted as saying that Tehran could intervene to protect
Shi'ite shrines and cities.
The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London reported on June 12
that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has deployed units of
its elite Quds Force to help Iraqi troops halt the advances of ISIL
forces. According to The Wall Street Journal,
"Iranian security sources" have said that two battalions of the Quds
Force have come to the aid of Maliki's government. The Quds Force is
said to have been active in Iraq for more than a decade.
The reports come after several Iranian websites on June 9posted a picture
of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani purportedly holding hands with
Iraqi Shi'ite lawmaker Qassem al-Araji. The websites claimed that Araji
had posted the picture on his social-networking page with the caption
"Haj Qassem is here!"
There was no immediate reaction from Iranian officials to the reports of Iran's intervention in Iraq.
Earlier in the day, deputy IRGC commander Brigadier General Hossein
Salami said that Iran was not worried about any threats related to the
events in Iraq. "Undoubtedly, the trend of extreme groups' movements in
Iraq will be reversed," Salami was quoted as saying by the semi-official
ISNA news agency.
He compared the situation in Iraq to that of Syria, where Iranian forces
are believed to have helped President Bashar al-Assad remain in power.
"Things were reversed in Syria," he said, adding that the same would
happen in Iraq.
The IRGC official blamed the United States and other countries for the
crisis in Iraq. "Incidents that are taking place in various countries,
such as Iraq, are the result of the U.S. and Western governments'
military interference," he said.
Other hard-line officials and also some media outlets took a similar approach in their reactions to the crisis in Iraq.
Among them was the supreme leader's representative to the IRGC, who also
blamed the United States. "In fact, the colonialist policies of the
United States boost the presence of extremist terrorists in Iraq and the
recent events in [that country]," Hojatoleslam Ali Saidi was quoted as
sayingby the hard-line Tasnim news agency.
Saidi also accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which, he said, invested a
lot into creating chaos in Syria. "Today they feel that all their plots
have failed in Syria," he said. "[So] they've opened a new front in Iraq
to lift the morale of those to whom they made promises."
The hard-line website Javanonline.ir also pinned the blame
on Saudi Arabia. "The intellectual roots of ISIL is from the school of
thought of Wahhabism and takfirism [eds. which considers Shi'a and
non-practicing Muslim infidels], which receives its unhealthy legitimacy
against humanity in various regions (currently in Iraq and Syria) from
muftis sitting in Riyadh."
The hard-line Fars news agency, which has been running a live-blog
covering Iraq events, posted comments by the commanders of Iran's Basij
force, who said the United States was manipulating the "Takfiri
terrorists" in Syria and Iraq to tarnish the image of Islam.
Other Iranian news agencies, including Mehr, have also been running
live-blogs dedicated to the crisis in Iraq. Most websites have also
focused a significant part of their news and analysis to Iraq.
Khabaronline quoted Iranian lawmaker Nozar Shafiee as saying that the
ISIL was not a threat to the Islamic republic. However, he warned that
in the long term the ideas of the group could pose a threat to Iran.
On June 12, Iran's Supreme National Security Council held a meeting to
discuss the situation in Iraq. Reuters reported on June 13, quoting a
senior Iranian official who spoke on condition of anonymity, that Iran's
leadership had discussed and was open to the possibility of cooperating
with the United States to help Iraq.