Iran and ISIL: The Joint Taskforce

ByMohammed Alsulami

Recent claims concerning ISIL by a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei have once again raised some questions about the terror group.
In an interview with the state-owned Tasnim News Agency, which is close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), General Hassan Firuzabadi, the former Chief of General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces and current military advisor to Khamenei, reiterated earlier claims that Iran is fighting ISIL, but added that Iranian forces had clashed with ISIL in Iraq only 40 kilometers from the Iranian-Iraqi border. The journalist conducting the interview, which was published by some state news media, responded to the new claim by asking the senior regime military figure whether the regime planned to officially announce its confrontation with the terrorist group. General Firuzabadi was apparently angered by this straightforward question, answering tersely in the negative and claiming that no such announcement would be necessary since “Iran knows that it hit ISIL, while the group [ISIL] itself cannot deny that we carried out this armed operation against them.” Following this puzzling response, the general then accused an Iraq Arab tribe which he did not identify of supporting terrorism in the border area between Iran and Iraq.

ISIL, also known by its Arabic acronym ISIL, first emerged in Syria in mid-2012 after it became clear that the Assad regime was in a weak position in confronting Syrian rebels. Shortly after its emergence, the group mysteriously managed to quickly expand to Iraq, where the heavily armed Iraqi army suddenly and immediately withdrew from Mosul and handed it over to the ISIL without a fight. The Iraqi army was generous enough to leave vast quantities of gifts for the incoming terror group, including a massive arsenal of light and heavy weapons, and bank vaults containing hundreds of millions of dollars.
While Iran and ISIL have exchanged hostile slogans, these have been limited to rhetoric only, with ISIL’s campaign of terror, destruction, torture, executions, slaughter and displacement focusing almost exclusively on the Sunni Arabs who the group was supposedly defending. Meanwhile, other than its attacks in Western nations, all of its other terror attacks and operations have been against Sunni and Arab states, primarily Saudi Arabia.
Two lengthy recordings and statements recently issued by ISIL and its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi once again threatened mass death, terror attacks, and destruction against Arab nations and Turkey, another predominantly Sunni regional country, with Al-Baghdadi, apparently enraged by Turkey’s support for operations in Mosul.

Despite the length of both recent recordings, both of which last well over half an hour there is once again no mention at all of ISIL’ supposed primary target, Iran. While Al-Baghdadi urges his supporters to launch “jihad operations” on Sunni Arab countries and the West, there is no incitement of any such attacks against the Iranian regime. This is a continuation of the group’s standard policies; while ISIL has lovingly filmed the barbaric execution of Arab and Western, Sunni, Christian and non-religious peoples, it has never once captured or killed an Iranian soldier or Shiite militiaman, despite the claims of the group and of the Iranian regime and its Shiite proxies to be locked in mortal combat in both Syria and Iraq.
The reality that quickly becomes apparent to anyone observing the evidence from the region and the movements of ISIL is that the group is an essential and invaluable asset to the Iranian regime’s regional expansionist project. The group’s members, whether or not all are aware of it, are essentially puppets or automatons providing a pretext for Tehran’s objective – regional occupation and the extermination or mass transfer of the Sunni Arab population both through sectarian war and through ‘demographic change’, which is, in this case, another term for ethnic cleansing. Achieving this objective will clear the way for Iran to attain its long-time goal, expressed many times by senior regime officials, of controlling the region from Iran to the shores of the Mediterranean. Indeed, the head of the IRGC, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, declared in a November 2015 that Tehran’s forces are forming a “single Islamic nation” in Iraq, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

What we’ve seen in Fallujah, Tikrit and elsewhere and are currently witnessing in Mosul and elsewhere of sectarian operations and mass ethnic cleansing by the Iranian proxy ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’ militias and affiliated terrorist groups, could not have taken place without the pretext of fighting ISIL, which – essentially for Tehran – targets almost exclusively Sunni areas which must then be “liberated” by Iran and its proxies.

The same pattern is also seen in Syria, with ISIL repeatedly failing to confront Bashar al-Assad’s forces or to launch any attacks on regime-controlled areas, instead focusing its attacks on rebels and Sunni areas. Syrian rebels and activists routinely report that regime forces and affiliated militias avoid any clashes with ISIL, with many regime defectors, including senior officials, reporting close coordination between the regime and the terror group.
While many credulous young people are brainwashed and deceived by ISIL’s ideological slogans and great promises, with the group telling them that if they are “martyred” while fighting for the ‘Islamic State’ they will be attended by beautiful angels and enjoy eternal bliss in the hereafter, they are in reality dupes, expendable “collateral damage” for Iran’s regional expansionist project, misled by the Iranian regime’s covert intelligence services into being unwitting operatives for achieving the regime’s objectives.
While these gullible young people are unaware of what is going on behind the scenes in ISIL’s command and control rooms and of the real objectives behind the establishment of the organization, this does not excuse their murderous actions in the group’s service, which are indefensible.
It should surely be becoming ever more apparent by now that these groups are merely operational tools to achieve their architects’ covert geopolitical objectives, which are hidden behind religious rhetoric and sectarian slogans. Once these objectives have been achieved, ISIL and others like it will be quietly dropped, having attained the goal for which they were created
Tehran’s and ISIL’ mutually hostile rhetoric is just that – empty rhetoric, part of an obscene geopolitical chess game; in reality, both are two sides of the same coin, targeting the Arab world in a monstrous and devastating plot by the Iranian regime to achieve total regional hegemony. Regional observers increasingly see through the Iranian regime’s strategy and its attempts to deflect attention from its empire building with ISIL, which is ultimately one more, devastating part of Iran’s regional task force.

Mohammed Alsulami
Mohammed Alsulami
Founder and President of Rasanah