Middle East

Iran vs the ISIS or Struggle for Influence in the Middle East

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Tactics and methods of the terrorist group ISIL “Islamic State of Iraq and Levant” which are based on radical current “Takfirism” do not only pose threat for the Middle East region and the world in general but also is a serious challenge to the national interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This threat creates risks for a political impact of the Islamic republic and complicates its situation with respect to national security. 
Nevertheless, there is an impression that the actions of the ISIL terrorist group create a number of favourable conditions for increasing influence on Iran. Despite the fact that the ISIL is not able to throw down a serious challenge to the security of the Islamic republic, it nevertheless has some resources and so-called soft power to do oust Mullah regime. There are no doubts that ISIL is not able to get on the territory of Iran and compete with it in neither intelligence nor the military spheres. The only existing mean of the terrorist group ISIL is to use social, national, andeconomic dissatisfactions in the Western territories of the country and thus to gain aground for promoting of Salafist ideology. The Western territories of Iran are occupied mostly by Sunni Muslims which are not satisfied with Iran’s Shiite regime.
 Taking that fact into account, it is necessary to underline an interesting point that Muslims of the Western territories of Iran were co-operating with PJAK, an extremist Kurdish nationalist organization that struggling with the Iranian government since 2004. Ethnic Iranian Kurds are willingly joining and supporting the organization. They are taking part in attacks to police bases in the Western territories. Some part of civilians, are supporting them technically due to totalitarian meres of the government.
The main problem of “PJAK” consisted that its members could not create a social base among the Iranian Kurds. In comparison with Turkey, in which Erdogan government is trying to solve Kurdish problem not only by military actions also by diplomatic negotiations over to stop clashes of insurgents with the army, Iran’s Mullah regime is quite far from that stage. PJAK members that are capturing during military operations are going to be executed or to be punished. Such meres of Iranian authorities force civilian Kurds to avoid contact with PJAK insurgents.
Despite the availability of several political organizations, the Kurdish movement in Iran is split. The most part of the political organizations, groups, individuals do not represent a single political whole and conduct armed struggle among themselves because of ideological reasons.
ISIL has met the same difficulty. Firstly, without having a social base, this group could not undertake anything. Secondly, most part of the Iranian Sunnites belongs to a Shafi’i thought which has nothing in common with Hanbali school (Sunni school of Islamic jurisprudence) The biggest advantage of the ISIL threat for Iran consists of recognition of the legitimacy of the government of Bashar al-Assad. Having got into Iraq’s territory, the ISIL has proved that it does not recognize political borders in the region.
Actions of this group made obvious the fact that, as much as he declared, Bashar al-Assad – not simple dictator, but the defender of the Syrian people. Supporting Bashar al-Assad, Iran repeatedly warned other countries about the rising threat of terrorist groups. Syrian crisis caused serious damage to the prestige of the western coalition. Iran, in turn, could mobilize the regional countries against terrorists. One more plus for Iran is the begun process of consolidation of political groups in Iraq. Shiites, Sunnites, Kurdsdecided to give a fight against the ISIS.
The Iranian authority circles are trying to mobilize Shiite insurgent groups that were non-active last years. It definitely will try to reform and equip the brigade of “Badr” with arms that are trained in Iranian IRGC. Common threat forces to unite with each otherShiite and Sunnite communities. Also, Masoud Barzani expressed Kurdistan intention to combat the terrorist group. [1]
Iran considers that it is possible to defeat Sunni insurgents, only if separate Shiiterebels of Iraq will negotiate. Experts consider that Iranian forces are not aimed to participate directly in the fight against the ISIL. Mostly the key role will fall on Qods Force. The role of Qods Forces will be similar as in the Syrian crisis in which trained government soldiers by Iranian instructors, helped Bashar Assad to remain in power.
It is possible that in case of execution of the roles of advisers and instructors of the mission of the USA and Iran can face at some point. However, neither the USA nor the Iranian Quds Forces do want to deal with each other.

[1] The New Yorker: “ISIS vs Kurdistan” URL: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/29/fight-lives

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