September 25, 2014

DON'T TELL THE CHILDREN:

US and Iran: 'More cooperation than meets the eye' (Deutsche Welle, 9/24/14)

Bitter adversaries for a generation, the US and Iran now face a common enemy: the "Islamic State." But Dr. Roham Alvandi tells DW that politics prevent Tehran and Washington from cooperating publicly. [...]

Ayatollah Khamenei said that he rejected an offer from the US to cooperate against the Islamic State. Why would Iran oppose cooperating with Washington against a common enemy?

Iran assisted the United States in Afghanistan back in 2001. They helped defeat the Taliban; they helped create the Bonn process [to rebuild Afghanistan's political institutions]; they helped create the Karzai government. And what they got in exchange for that was "axis of evil" and more sanctions. Nothing came out of it and that was quite a gamble for President Khatami who had convinced the leadership that this was the right thing to do. So you can't really blame them for being skeptical as to whether the US will really come through on any sort of quid pro quo as far as Iraq is concerned.

So the Iranian government doesn't see anything to gain from publicly supporting the US or publicly joining a US-led coalition?

President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif would like to make a case that the US should give some kind of concessions to Iran on the nuclear issue because of the help Iran can offer in Iraq. The problem is that any kind of cooperation in Iraq has to be weighed against the domestic political costs of doing so, both in Tehran and Washington. And I think the calculation is that it's better to cooperate quietly and secretly than to try and to invest any political capital in doing anything openly.

Posted by at September 25, 2014 7:52 PM
  

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