So we’re going to work with Iran to make sure that ISIS goes back to Syria and fights the real enemy: Syrian democrats.

There is some dismaying news coming out of Washington: The United States plans to engage Iran and seek its help in restoring stability, to whatever extent we can, to Iraq.

This is a tragic mistake. Iranian interests in Iraq, and the broader Middle East, are fundamentally different from ours. Yes, ISIS is a mutual enemy, but ISIS is also a friend to Iran insofar as they distract the rebels in Syria. Professor Rex Brynan of McGill tweeted, “the US is capable of fighting Iran in Syria, negotiating on nukes, and cooperating on Iraq–just as Iran can.” Except the US is not planning on fighting Iran in Syria at all. Our last foreign policy blunder, allowing Bashar al-Assad to get away with gassing children, was engineered as to avoid significant US involvement. As long as Assad dominates from the air, and the rebels are fighting on two fronts–––one with Assad, and one with ISIS–––the rebellion has no chance. There is no evidence, other than a notional commitment of more light weapons to rebels outlined in the West Point speech, that the administration will change course in Syria. 

The Obama administration seems to have accepted the false choice between combating Iranian hegemony and keeping the homeland safe from terrorists. This will not come free of charge. Not to our values, interests, or the interests of our allies. ISIS may well be driven back to Syria, where helpless Syrian rebels who are fighting for freedom and democracy will come under increased attack. What a heck of a job we’ve done, right?

UPDATE (JUNE 16th): The Wall Street Journal is now reporting the United States will not work with Iran. This is good news, but not likely indicative of any newfound support for intervening in Syria in the administration. In any case, if we’re only going target ISIS in Iraq, we may as well use it as leverage in dealing with Maliki.

About the Author
Abe Silberstein writes on Israeli politics, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and American foreign policy in the Middle East. He can be reached at