Iranian sources are involved in shady weapon deals with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Iraqi security source told the Saudi newspaper Okaz (Arabic link). The source said Iranian “agents” are supplying ISIS in Iraq with weapons in exchange for oil.
These transactions are alarming Western and Middle Eastern officials, who fear (Arabic link) that Iran is trying to strengthen ISIS in order to ease the international sanctions against it and to spur an intra-Sunni war.
Certain commentators in the Arab world believe (Arabic link) that Iraqi government officials may be assisting Iran in these transactions. According to the Iraqi security source, there is a growing concern that airports in three different cities in Iraq are platforms for transferring weapons from Iran to ISIS.
The charges are reinforced by statements made by Iraqi Shia politicians, who heard from Iranian officials who are hoping for the defeat of the international coalition against ISIS:
“There are many indications that the Iranian regime does not want to get rid of all ISIS, neither in Iraq nor Syria… Influential figures within the Iranian regime believe that an international coalition’s defeat by ISIS will make the Shiites in Iraq obeying more and more to the Ayatollah regime in Tehran.”
Iran continues to publicly state that it opposes the extremist Sunni organization, a stance that allegedly brought Iran and the Western powers together in a rare agreement. However, such arms deals may indicate that the true interests of Iran in the region are more complex.
In 2012, the United States Treasury Department exposed ties between Iran and al-Qaeda Iraq (AQI, a predecessor to ISIS) prompting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen to say, “we will continue targeting this crucial source of al-Qa’ida’s funding and support, as well as highlight Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation.”