News Analysis |
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei has said that the attack on the Iranian Parliament and shrine of the revolutionary Ayatullah Khomeini carried out by the Islamic State will fuel hatred for the US and Saudi Arabia.
Gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the Iranian Majlis and the mausoleum of the venerated Ayatullah Khamenei, who happens to not only be a fiefdom of Iran’s identity but a cult figure for Shiites across the world. 17 people were killed while scores were injured.
“It will not damage our nation’s determination to fight terrorism… but will only increase hatred for the governments of the United States and their stooges in the region like Saudis,” Khamenei said in a message read at the funeral of victims of the attacks.
“We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”
– The White House
Earlier, the all-powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) blamed the carnage on a regional rival, Saudi Arabia, and vowed to exact revenge. Riyadh denied any complicity in the attack.
The attack took place at a time when the gulf between Riyadh and Tehran is reaching dangerous proportions. On Monday, the Kingdom along with other Gulf countries broke diplomatic ties with Qatar on the pretext of its improving relations with Tehran.
ISIS, Trump, and Iran
President Trump who often takes to Twitter to dish out his thoughts on various issues released a statement which expressed sympathy with Iranian people but took a dig at Iran’s alleged role in stoking the terror network.
The statement released by the White House Press Secretary read, “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”
The sarcastic condemnation was severely criticized by Iranians on social media. The Iranians reminded their government support and mourning after the 9/11 attacks.
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Javed Zarif, took serious exceptions on Trump’s jibe and called it sheer dualism and cherry-picking. He tweeted, “Repugnant WH statement… as Iranians counter-terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claim of friendship.”
Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 8, 2017
This comes at a time when Trump has openly chastised Tehran and called it a state that sponsors and proliferates terrorism. In the Riyadh Summit, he chided Iran and called upon all States to confront Iran, which he considered as the mother of all terrorists.
With ISIS a common enemy, a chance to unite against it is there for the taking. However, the US continually sees Iran’s fight against ISIS as a tool to expand the sphere of influence.
“But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three — safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking, of course, of Iran,” he said.
“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” he added.
“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve,” he stressed.
This emboldened the Saudi bloc to squeeze Iran and its supporters. The Qatar blockade is an example and interestingly Trump was quick to take credit for it in a series of tweets.
This, according to many hints towards US duplicitous attitude towards fighting the ISIS. The dreaded Sunni organization attacked inside Iran, a country which is not only fighting it in Syria and Iraq but follows what the ISIS considers a heretic sect.
The Trump Administration has to understand the common threat in ISIS and play a role in easing potentially ruinous regional tensions.
ISIS is certainly an enemy of Iran; an assault inside a Shiite fiefdom is like grabbing a jewel. US is also fighting the ISIS but is against Iran’s backing of the Assad regime in Syria. With ISIS a common enemy, a chance to unite against it is there for the taking. However, the US continually sees Iran’s fight against ISIS as a tool to expand the sphere of influence.
The piecemeal condemnation of the ISIS points fingers towards US contradictory approach. A support to Iran’s anti-ISIS drive can be a positive step towards defeating the virulent organization, which is fast expanding its tentacles.
The US who has already declined to cooperate with Russia to defeat ISIS in Afghanistan is in a predicament now. Failure to condemn and cooperate has given the popular anti-Iranian impression more credence. Besides, it has aspersions on US’s willingness to go all-out against the menace of terrorism.
However, this does not come as a surprise as Trump has shown his contempt for the Iran Nuclear Deal, terming it as disastrous and showing the resolve to tear it apart. The Trump Administration has to understand the common threat in ISIS and play a role in easing potentially ruinous regional tensions.