In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Islamic Republic of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called US airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (also known as ISIL – Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) ‘psychological warfare’ and said that a broader spectrum of action is needed to combat the terrorist organization whose territory stretches across large swathes of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
We need a vast campaign of operations … the aerial bombardment campaign is mostly, I would say, a form of theater, rather than a serious battle against terrorism.
Normally at polar opposites of the political spectrum, the United States and Iran have found common cause in eliminating ISIS from Iraq and Syria. While the US has only promised airstrikes so far, Iran has dispatched the Revolutionary Guard to northern Iraq and Qassem Suleimani, leader of the Quds force, has been seen in Iraq’s capital of Baghdad. Where the United States, Iran, and much of the West diverge is on the question of Syria. Indeed, without Iran’s support, it is likely that Bashar al Assad’s regime would have collapsed long ago. Iran is a strong backer of the current regime in Syria, whereas the United States is reluctant to commit to the continuation of the Assad regime, even given the alternative in ISIS et al.
‘How do you feel, Amanpour asked Rouhani, ‘as the president of Iran, as the main military backer of a regime, the Assad regime, that the United Nations has said has killed 200,000 of its own people — tortured people, executed people. Why does Iran want to be associated with that kind of genocidal barbarism?’
‘The army of that country was carrying out a battle against the terrorists,” Rouhani replied. ‘They kept saying that these are opposition members and we will keep asking who are these opposition members who have preferred to take up arms so swiftly and so savagely and violent, reasons rather than resorting to talks and negotiations?’
Rouhani is adamant in his beliefs that, had Iran not intervened, the groups that the world community now calls terrorists would control Syria and something larger or worse than ISIS currently is could have become the main power in the region. He credits the Syrian people with fighting against this terrorism and if it were not for this struggle this chaotic alternative reality he proposed could well have become the present and future of the Levant and Iraq.
[CNN, Iran’s President calls airstrikes on ISIS ‘theater,’ says broader campaign needed]