Don’t lose sight of Iran’s meddling

Since ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has gained significant ground in Iraq over the past few days there’s a theory evolving that behind the rise of this particular terrorist organization there might be Iran’s Quds Forces. Sounds nonsensical at first and makes perfect sense when you think about it for a moment.

Covert or even overt support for ISIS would fit into the pattern of the Islamic Republic. Fueling the Sunni – Shia divide, cementing continued chaos in the Middle East, merging two civil wars – Iraq and Syria – into one and distracting attention away from a certain nuclear weapons program only weeks until the interim deal’s deadline is approaching. All of these aspects – and many more – give us reason enough to doubt that Iran’s regime is as innocent as it’ll act in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, Arab countries literally breaking apart is helpful for Teheran’s hollow narrative that only the Islamic Republic is a guarantor of stability in a volatile region. Well, here’s the thing: it isn’t. From every angle that you look at this epic catastrophe in Iraq and Syria it leaves us with the conclusion that the Iranian regime is the real and profound problem in the greater Middle East. Why so? Well, ask yourself how on earth we’d like to fight ISIS? Nothing out of our 21st century box of tools is capable of defeating a terrorist group coming directly from the Medieval ages. No conventional warfare, no containment, no financial restrictions and let’s not even discuss for a nano second President Obama’s favorite policy tool: diplomacy. The deployment of US troops and of US allies and partners is obviously out of question until 2016 – it might be the right moment to mention that the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq is what brought this gigantic mess upon us and the Iraqi people themselves.

Drones are an option, but let’s face it: not only is it too late for that, but it is also insufficient to reconquer those areas from ISIS simply by an extensive use of drones. The Iranian regime knows this. It’ll continue to take advantage of this crisis to its utmost interest while lying its way out of every meddling we’ve seen from this regime in the past.

It is high time, therefore, not to lose sight of Iran’s troublemaking role in the Middle East and start stepping up to fight the Iranian dictatorship – for the sake of Iranians, Iraqis and other Middle Eastern societies as well as Israel’s security. It is something we owe ourselves too. Because this dangerous situation won’t find its end within Middle Eastern borders, it is designed to endanger our security in Europe and the United States as well.

An American President, reluctant to admit that US retreat from the Middle East is an extraordinary failed policy, might give this a thought the next time he enjoys playing golf while the Middle East continues to fall apart.

About the Author
Saba Farzan is a German-Iranian journalist and Executive Director at Foreign Policy Circle, a strategy think tank in Berlin.