Diplomacy

Rouhani: Iran will Do ‘Everything’ to Protect Shia Sites in Iraq

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani traveled to the Iraqi border on June 18 to pledge his country will do whatever it takes to protect the holiest sites in Shia Islam, which are located in southern Iraq. Rouhani said there are petitions from Iranians who are willing “to destroy the terrorists and protect the holy sites.”

“Dear Karbala, Dear Najaf, Dear Kadhimiyah and Dear Samarra, we warn the great powers and their lackeys and the terrorists, the great Iranian people will do everything to protect them…

“Thank God there are enough volunteers Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq to fight the terrorists,” he added.

The president’s remarks on possible Iranian intervention in neighboring Iraq in order to defeat Sunni jihadists marching through the country follow noises form Washington that the U.S. may be ready to cooperate with Tehran in this fight.

An opinion piece published in The Washington Post on June 17 made the case against any cooperation. It was penned by Michael Doran from the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and Max Boot, who is with the Council on Foreign Relations.

It’s sometimes true that very different countries can cooperate against a common enemy, as the United States and Soviet Union did during World War II. But the suggestion of a united U.S.-Iran front is more reminiscent of the wishful thinking among conservatives who argued in the 1930s that Britain and the United States shared a common interest with Nazi Germany in countering communism. The idea that the United States, a nation bent on defending democracy and safeguarding stability, shares a common interest with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a revolutionary theocracy that is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world, is as fanciful as the notion that Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler could work together for the good of Europe.

This potential dalliance with Tehran comes at a time when Iran is pressuring Washington and the other members of the P5+1 to conclude nuclear negotiations and agree a deal whereby Iran can continue with its nuclear program.

[Photo: Aziz1005 / Wiki Commons]