Did rise of Daesh/ ISIL ensure Iran Nuclear Deal?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

In Iraq on Tuesday, Iraq militias and the Iraqi military launched a counter-attack on Falluja with the ultimate aim of driving Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) out of al-Anbar Province.

The operation follows the successful liberation of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, from Daesh by these same forces. In the second half of the Tikrit campaign, the administration of President Barack Obama joined the fray, giving operational support to the Iraqi forces, including the pro-Iran Shiite militias and their Iranian advisers.

The collapse of the Iraqi army a little over a year ago and the Daesh successes, in which Mosul and Fallujah fell along with some 40% of Iraqi territory, created the prerequisites for Obama’s air war in support of Iraq.

But likely the rise of Daesh also contributed to the urgency felt by the Obama administration to get a deal with Iran.

On Tuesday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Iran deal:

“removes the barriers – largely artificial – on the way to a broad coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist groups.”

He said that resolving the tensions of the international community with Iran will help resolve “a whole number of problems and conflicts in the region,” and he expected it to exercise a “positive influence on the situation as a whole.” He added, “In particular, it creates added impetus to promote the creation in the Middle East of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.”

His remarks were echoed by Frederica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy official, who spoke of a new confidence in defeating ISIL.

For the Russian Federation and the European Union, then, I conclude that the agreement in Iran was, if not propelled, at least welcomed for the reason that it makes it easier to ally with Iran against Daesh.

In short, the deal makes what happened in Tikrit legitimate.

The deal specifies in an annex that the Iranian Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani will be given sanctions relief by Europe 8 years down the road, likely in recognition of the positive role he is playing against Daesh.

For those European leaders who take the threat of Daesh seriously, a new relationship with Iran seems essential. Iran has been the most effective regional power in rolling back Daesh conquests. Without Iran, Daesh would still dominate parts of Diyala Province and would still have the city of Tikrit.

In contrast, neither Saudi Arabia nor Israel has been the least bit helpful in the fight against Daesh.

Russia fears Daesh for internal reasons. It has faced Muslim insurgencies on its own soil in places like Chechnya, and Russian leaders fear that radical Muslims will turn to Daesh for support.

Although a five year moratorium in major weapons sales to Iran is part of the agreement, Lavrov notes that exceptions can be made with UNSC support. Russia hopes to sell Iran anti-aircraft batteries by the end of this year.

The deal, then, brings Iran in from the cold. But it also potentially puts Iran to work as an ally of the West facing down Salafi jihadi extremism.

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Related video:

PressTV: “Excluive: Iraq kicks off military operation to liberate Anbar”

11 Responses

  1. US policies have given birth to the pursuit of systems of economic activity insulated from the US dollar; observable in the BRICS group, the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union, and, of course the rapport between Russia and China. Sanctions were coaxing Iran in that direction. There are, of course, hosts of more immediate considerations, and ISIL is surely one, although any notion that Iran will agree to be ‘put to work as an ally of the West’ seems less likely. In fact there might well be more advantage for the US etc. to coördinate their efforts with Iran.

    • “US policies have given birth to the pursuit of systems of economic activity insulated from the US dollar; …”

      I fully agree with you on this point. USA and the west, especially under Bush Jr. and Obama have used our monetary system with increasing frequency to accomplish geopolitical goals.
      Banking: We have frozen banking assets (which may be acts of war); blocked other countries from using our banking system and even coerced European entities such as SWIFT to expel countries. We have used our credit card (VISA and Mastercard) transactional systems as an economic weapon. Finally, we pressure our rating agencies to downgrade the countries we want to hurt economically.

      This has lead to as you point out that Russia and China are developing an alternate system to replace SWIFT and the credit card transactional system. Increasingly, a number of emerging economies are using non dollar or non Euro denominated transactions.
      Having used this economic weapon too many times, we are going to rue the day, because we may find that all the structures we set up after Bretten woods are no longer indispensable with negative consequences for our economic well being.

      • Bretton Woods was ruined a long time ago.

        To me, Bretton Woods and the original forms of the postwar intl institutions championed by FDR fit with his actions in removing troops from Central America and scheduling the independence of the Philippines. I think his overarching goal was to make armed conquest a non-optimal solution for economic survival. The rehabilitation of Germany & Japan was the textbook example of how it was supposed to work. You can be cynical about the details of that, but the result was that for a brief interlude countries in the 3rd World had the means to get ahead economically without kowtowing to Wall Street. For instance, under Bretton Woods, currencies didn’t float. Under the post-1971 system, if any government attempts economic policies opposed by currency traders (who presumably trend well right of center), they can punish it by dumping its currency out of a “sincere” fear. Thus the tyranny of austerity.

        The financial institutions created back then (World Bank, IMF, GATT) have been perverted to serve the rich and crush wages worldwide. The UN, conversely, got out of the control of the Great Powers when decolonization created new members, and they have retaliated by using vetoes to paralyze it.

        The only indispensable role of the whole lot of them was preventing the sequential dangers of depression, fascism and world war. They’ve betrayed that role, and the danger is back – not just from the US.

  2. The President and Secretary have delivered big-time. It is a comfort to these old eyes to see unfolded before us a blueprint for hope and a prudent alternative to war. An awesome beginning if our people will embrace it. Avatar of ruin if we yield to fear.
    Interesting times.
    Thank you, Dr. Cole for a front row seat.

  3. I think a major accomplishment of this plan is to emasculate Netenyahu. I don’t see how he could sustain the notion that Iran is an international pariah that must be cleansed with military force. Iran’s severe concessions set the stage for discussing the need for Israel’s nuclear weapons stockpile, if someone has the balls to get on the stage – maybe John Kerry.

    Considering the constant drumbeat, from Israel and its powerful US allies, to take military action against Iran, if this plan is obstructed then Iran will have s strong rationale for building a bomb or two.

    • It’s like Global Warming – the villains don’t have to convince the world of their story, they just have to convince one faction in one political party in the USA, and all the rest of humanity is held hostage.

  4. The enemy of my enemy….

    Opposition to this agreement has nothing to do with any Iranian nuclear threat but rather signals great fear of Western rapprochement with Tehran.

    • I think there is probably behind the scenes opposition from the oil patch. The global price of oil will be lower with Iranian oil added to the world oil market, and that hurts anyone who makes a living pumping oil.

      • But companies supplying oil industry-related equipment and know how stand to do very comfortably when the rejuvenation of Iran’s oil fields and infrastructure gets underway. Think Halliburton- there will be some very conflicted Republicans …

  5. Are we finally going to learn the actual lesson of Pax Britannica? No permanent alliances? Side with the country that becomes the lesser threat and abandon your warlike allies without sentiment?

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