IranWire reports: “The border patrol has increased its vigilance on the Iran-Iraq border,” said Iran’s Police Chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam. “The country’s Supreme National Security Council would consider intervening to protect Shia shrines and cities.”
Ahmadi-Moghaddam has been the only high-ranking Iranian official to comment on the advances made by the Sunni extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). According to IranWire sources, Iranian officials have been ordered to remain quiet about the events in neighboring Iraq and ISIS victories. “Iranian officials have been told not to comment, or else,” said a wary former high-ranking Iranian diplomat to IranWire.
According to the former diplomat Iranian plans in Iraq are summarized in the wisdom of one man, “We all know that Haj Ghassem is hard at work trying to control the situation,” referring to Ghassem Suleimani, the legendary commander of the Quds Force, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Extraterritorial Force, and perhaps the closest person to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Our forces will do whatever it takes to protect the border, and the holy shrines from this bunch of thugs. And ISIS are nothing, but a group of hooligans. They know what can happen if Iran gets involved in the situation, and that is why they are in such a hurry to carry out their dirty acts.”
Iran’s designs in Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East, have been looked at with a degree of cynicism and fear. Many Arab diplomats regard Persian Iranians as untrustworthy neighbors who secretly ally themselves with anyone to protect their interests.
Last week a member of Syrian opposition accused Iran of secretly helping ISIS. According to Abdul Halim Khaddam, the former vice president to Syria’s Bashar Assad, Iran is arming ISIS in order to undermine the Syrian opposition. By strengthening ISIS, Khaddam claimed, Iran was seeking to draw Syrian public sentiment back toward Assad, recasting the battle as Bashar’s battle against extremist onslaught.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif categorically denied this accusation. He said Iran has been battling Salafi extremists and Al-Qaeda itself for years, and would never stoop to such measures. [Continue reading…]