Tags: Iran | ISIS | Islamic State

Iran Angles for Negotiations in ISIS Front

By Tuesday, 30 September 2014 09:23 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The Obama Middle East foreign policy lens is focused on one issue at the moment: the defeat of ISIS. In pursuing this goal, the Obama team is seeking allies including former enemies such as Iran, notwithstanding claims to the contrary.

While the U.S. now sees Iran as a potential stabilizing force in Iraq and Syria, Tehran is chafing at what it considers the tough negotiating stance of the U.S. on its nuclear program.

No one at the moment — on either side of the negotiating table – has specifically referred to linkage, but the firm position of Ayatollah Ali Khameni is a sign Iran believes it has new found leverage over Washington.

A White House spokesman contends, “The United States will not be in a position of trading aspects of Iran’s nuclear program to secure commitments to take on ISIS.”

On the sidelines are allies of the U.S. apprehensive about the American position. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have vowed to assist the U.S. in the effort to destroy ISIS, but they are reluctant to use Iran as the instrument for doing so.

The fear is that a stronger Iran, one with nuclear weapons, becomes an imperial threat to the region. As Secretary of State John Kerry underscores the importance of Iran’s role in the war against the Islamic state, Sunni leaders shudder.

Establishing a balance between a harnessed Iran nuclear program and an Iranian army deployed as a regional balance wheel is a proposition emerging from the evolution of recent events. Already Iranian officials are calling the U.S. negotiating position “unreasonable.” Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, said, “what do they, [the U.S.], want?” “Iran has been . . . the first that came to the aid of the Iraqis in dealing with that problem.”

What the Iranians cleverly avoid is the sectarian divide in the Middle East. With Iraq, Syria and Iran united as a powerful bloc of Shia dominated governments, it poses a threat to their Sunni counterparts. In fact, the Sunni states accuse Baghdad of fueling the rise of ISIS by marginalizing Iraq’s minority Sunni population — a stance adopted by the former Maliki government.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu maintained that the nations of the world should not ignore the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons even if some officials “are saying that world powers should go easy on Iran’s nuclear program so it will fight ISIS.”

This Netanyahu stance is consistent with the position of most European leaders.

However, the rise of ISIS and the barbaric beheadings have distracted policy analysts across the globe. The strategy, if there is one, is to put each of the Muslim threats in a silo as if one is different from the other.

Admittedly tactics do vary at the margin, but goals are extraordinarily similar.

Whether it is ISIS or Khorasan or al Qaida or the Muslim Brotherhood, the end game is a caliphate employing violence to achieve that point. As the United States stands as a Western super power capable of thwarting that goal, it is the great Satan.

Despite all the carping about former Vice President Cheney’s comment that we must “clean out the swamp” in the Middle East, he is right and his view expresses a real strategy, one clearly avoided by the Obama administration. The question President Obama will not ask is why do Muslim radicals want to harm the U.S. and what can we do to preempt their destructive impulse? An unwillingness to fight is certainly not the answer nor is conciliations at the negotiating table or a reliance on surrogates to fight this war for us.

This is a struggle for survival of our civilization.

Dropping bombs from 30,000 feet may scare and degrade our enemies, but it won’t win this civilizational war. The message we deliver to the Iranians in Vienna is telling.

If we concede on nuclear weapons roll-back so the Iranians do our bidding on the battlefield, we may degrade ISIS, but it will be a significant loss in the global war in which we are engaged.

Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the books "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America) and "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Books). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.


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While the U.S. now sees Iran as a potential stabilizing force in Iraq and Syria, Tehran is chafing at what it considers the tough negotiating stance of the U.S. on its nuclear program.
Iran, ISIS, Islamic State
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 09:23 AM
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