Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition

By Juan Cole

al-Zaman [The Times of Baghdad] reports that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has proposed to visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi an anti-ISIL axis including Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq that would be led by Iran, as an alternative to the US-led coalition proposed by President Barack Obama. In essence, this is the same kind of support Iran offers Bashar al-Assad in Syria against ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates there (as well as against the Free Syrian Army).

Al-Zaman’s sources maintain that al-Abadi was extremely annoyed by the openly anti-Western public pronouncements of Iranian officials and Revolutionary Guards commanders. The whole point of his repeated rejection of foreign ground troops in Iraq the previous day (after a visit to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf) was to avoid such criticism from Iran.

Iran provides Iraq with electricity, given that Iraq’s energy infrastructure is still being rebuilt, and officials in Tehran said that that agreement would be renewed, but that Iraq had agreed to pay more per kilowatt. Iraq also agreed to buy $30 billion in Iranian goods next year, including weaponry and logistical equipment. Iran is under US and UN sanctions and needs to expand its trade, and Iraq is one country the US won’t pressure over trade with Iran because it is understood that Baghdad needs good economic relations with its neighbor to the east if the al-Abadi government is to survive.

Al-Abadi, a fervent Shiite and member of the fundamentalist Da’wa (Islamic Call or Islamic Mission Party), also met with Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei and is said to much appreciate Iran’s help against ISIL.

At the same time, US and coalition fighter jets continued to fly missions against ISIL on behalf of Baghdad.

Another source of friction between Baghdad and Tehran, al-Zaman says, is that some of the Shiite Iraqi army officers who abandoned their posts in Mosul in the face of the ISIL advance are known to be close to Iran, and al-Abadi’s new Sunni minister of defense is already making noises about punishing and purging them.

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Related video:

Press TV: “Rouhani: Iran will continue supporting Iraq against ISIL ”

16 Responses

  1. Juan, I’m stumped. Can you recall a war where two uncoordinated, competing coalitions waged war in such complicated arrangements?

    Also, you forgot to mention Yemen in the Iran-led coalition against ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates.

    • How about a history of European violence over the last 20 centuries? Maybe overlap that with a review of wars and empires in the Mediterranean basin over the last 5 or 6 millenia, including of course Messypotamia, and the traditional recitations of Israelite history in the Pentateuch?

      And “we,” not the royal or editorial form, but the pretextual presumption that those in communication with us are in comity and communion with us too, “WE” pretend or accept that it’s this comfortable frame, all nice and packaged into Good Guys and Bad Guys, the Enemies du Jour vs. US, and it’s supposedly about “Our National Interests Uber All…” Add the complexity of corporations bigger, wealthier and more powerful than most states, pursuing whatever THEIR interests are (mostly just MORE FOR THEM and their bigwigs?), and what do you get? Stuff like “At the same time, US and coalition fighter jets continued to fly missions against ISIL on behalf of Baghdad.” Nothing but unguided wildly propagating mercenarialism… You think those other players don’ be gettin’ a really good old belly laugh at “us?” They can even slap us in the face, again and again, while “we” ladle out cubic kilometers of weapons and money to them, to “buy influence and loyalty to our cause”…

  2. Every single one of our “Boots on the Ground” contingent should be soundly slapped on a daily basis. And the same thing should be strongly considered for our “Helmets in the air” proponents real soon.

  3. When you post an article critical of Iran from an ostensibly objective source, it would be nice to have some background on the source; in this case that would be connections, if any, to Saudis.

  4. Hey, guys! Wait up for me! C’mon, guys! No fair! It’s my ball, after all! C’mon, PLEEEEZE?

  5. I am intrigued by the headline. Did Iran use the Farsi word for “axis” or ” ” alliance” ? Was the use of the word “axis” with its negative connotations a deliberate choice?

    • the word in the Arabic article is mihwar, which means axis. There is nothing in principle negative about that word.

      • True, but in principle, there is no negative connotation to the historical symbol of the swastika. WWII pitted the allied forces against the axis forces and GWB ( or more accurately his speechwriter) coined the term ” axis of evil.” I was just wondering.

  6. “Another source of friction between Baghdad and Tehran, al-Zaman says, is that some of the Shiite Iraqi army officers who abandoned their posts in Mosul in the face of the ISIL advance are known to be close to Iran, and al-Abadi’s new Sunni minister of defense is already making noises about punishing and purging them.” What’s with the “already”? I can’t believe that they haven’t been sacked yet! WTF?

  7. I have to admit, my head is spinning from the bewildering machinations of the Middle East. This proposed Shitte coalition is fine by me. More of a recognition of an existing, if fragile, alliance than anything else.
    link to nytimes.com

    Speaking of fragile alliances, today Erdogan is criticizing the U.S. airdrop to Kobane because a palette may have found its way to ISIS. He says the U.S. has aided ISIS. Kinda funny. On reflection, a predictable cheap shot given the international criticism he’s under.

    With friends like Pakistan and Turkey, who needs enemies?

  8. On October 10th, Iran warned Turkey not to intervene in Syria. Over the weekend, Erdogan flip-flopped and joined Obama’s coalition against ISIS but taking down Assad’s regime is still their main goal.Today, Iran’s proposed an axis against ISIS that also includes Syria.

    Tomorrow, Rouhani and Ergodan will get together and sing “WE ARE FAMILY” in Farsi and Arabic.

    PEACE IN OUR TIME.

  9. Just learning about all this… I know there are Iran-aligned militias in Iraq, but does Iran actually have its own military (Revolutionary Guards, etc.) fighting against ISIS in Iraq currently? Has that specifically been requested by Iraq?

    If this Shiite coalition does come into being, what kinds of specific things could Iran do against ISIS, say, in Syria? Send troops? Or are we talking about diplomatic steps?

  10. Isn’t this just giving interested parties pieces of Iraq? Saudia Arabia wants something, Qatar wants something, Iran wants something, Turkey wants something. Seems they “work” with the US in return for something.

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