June 12, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5767

Iranian Daily Hints At U.S. Plan To Divide Iran By Collapsing Iraq; Reports Of Qods Force Commander Suleimani In Baghdad; Iranian Dailies Warn Of Regional Sunni-Shi'ite War

June 12, 2014
Iraq, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 5767

Responses in Iran to the takeover of Iraqi cities by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) mostly constituted condemnation,[1] calls on Iraqis – especially Shi'ites – to organize and beat back the ISIS "terrorist attack,"[2] and warning that events could escalate to an all-out Sunni-Shi'ite war that would start in Iraq and spread to the entire region.

Regime mouthpieces, both those who support the Rohani government and those who support the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the ideological camp, accused Saudi Arabia of being behind ISIS activity in Iraq after its defeat in Syria, either on orders from the U.S. and Israel, or independently as a Sunni force combatting Shi'ites.

A notable reaction in Iran to the collapse of the Iraqi state and its implications on the region and especially on Iran itself came from the daily Ebtekar, which is close to supporters of Hashemi Rafsanjani. The daily claimed that Iraq's collapse is a danger to Iran's national security and warned that Iraq could be divided into three different countries: Kurd, Sunni, and Shi'ite. According to Ebtekar, this scenario is already underway and will influence minorities in Iran, chiefly the Kurds, to increase their demands to realize their own national aspirations, leading to the division of Iran – a goal that the superpowers, and especially the U.S., strive to achieve. Ebtekar stressed that Iran "should properly assess America's new goals and protect itself against the negative consequences of the upheavals in Iraq." It added that Iran should pursue the proper policy regarding the Iraq crisis in order to ensure its national interests.[3]

This document will review reactions in Iran to the ISIS takeover of Iraqi cities:

Reports That IRGC Qods Force Commander Suleimani Is In Baghdad To Prepare The City's Defenses

Initial reports, including tweets by Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, indicate that the commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, Qasem Suleimani, is in Baghdad to coordinate preparations to defend the city.[4]

It should be mentioned that Arab press featured a report from an unnamed IRGC official claiming that the IRGC was being fully mobilized, but this report did not appear in the Iranian press. Furthermore, the Iranian press reported that forces on the Iran-Iraq border were on high alert.[5] Iranian President Rohani announced that he would convene the Supreme National Security Council to discuss the developments in Iraq.[6]

Reactions From Iranian Political Officials

Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaa Al-Din Boroujerdi and the Iranian daily Kayhan claimed that ISIS was taking vengeance on the Iraqi people in the service of the U.S. and its allies after they failed in Syria, but argued that they would be defeated.[7]

Ismail Kothari, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, also mentioned that ISIS, "which is comprised of mercenaries," was a tool of the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia, whose goal is to dismantle Iraq. He called on regional countries to act in order to preserve Iraq's integrity and added that the organization posed no threat to Iran.[8] Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzia Afkham stressed that "thus far, Iraq has not asked Iran to send forces to combat the terrorists."[9]

Iranian Dailies: Saudi Arabia, U.S., And Israel Behind ISIS

The Iranian daily Javan, which is close to the IRGC, claimed that the activity of "ISIS – the new version of Al-Qaeda" in Iraq originates in Saudi Arabia, which refuses to acknowledge its defeat in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries; in Israel, which is stoking Sunni-Shi'ite tension in order to thwart the Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and in Western countries, which fear the homecoming of the terrorists who left their countries to fight in Syria.

Javan claimed that ISIS activity in Iraq is the result of Bashar Assad's army's victories in Syria and "the retreat of takfiris due to the advancement of the Syrian army," as well as the fact that "Saudi Arabia still does not officially recognize the new government and political order in Iraq." The daily claimed that Saudi Arabia "expected to realize its goals in Syria, Iraq, and other areas of the Middle East, but now sees that Iraq, Syria, and other topics, including the Iranian nuclear issue, are progressing contrary to its goals and delusions. In this respect, it is like an injured tiger that ignores reality...

"Whenever international debates on the Two State Solution in Palestine become serious and pressure is put on the [Zionist] regime to implement this plan, sudden crises and events occur in or even out of the region, which delay the implementation of the Two State Solution and push it to the sidelines... Perhaps the most important variable is Western countries, and especially European countries, fearing the homecoming of takfiris with dual citizenships. In this respect, turning Iraq into a new Syria in order to enable the Iraqi army to eliminate Al-Qaeda and ISIS activists would help [those countries]…

"The recent security events in Iraq, and especially in its Sunni and Kurdish areas, were not the result of some spontaneous decision, but rather of a practical and preplanned program that directly and indirectly involved the losers of the Syria war, who at the very least stand to benefit from it."[10]

On June 12, 2014, the daily Jomhouri-e Eslami, which supports the Rohani government, implicitly levelled accusations at Saudi Arabia and hinted that it was behind ISIS activity in Iraq: "The takfiri terrorist group ISIS could not take such steps without foreign financial and armed support. There is no doubt that this involves certain governments ... that showed explicit and implicit hostility towards the Iraqi government and people in the past [meaning Saudi Arabia]... Undoubtedly, the fires of fitna [stoked] by these criminal terrorist groups will spread to the factions and governments [i.e. Saudi Arabia] who were silent in the face of the crimes committed by takfiris due to their hatred of the Iraqi government."[11]

Saudi Arabia and U.S. present scissors to ISIS for ribbon-cutting ceremony of "New Terrorism Highway" in Iraq (Source: Fars, Iran, June 11, 2014)

U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel throw ISIS, Sunni Ba'th Party into Cauldron of "Iraqi Crisis" (Source: Fars, Iran, June 12, 2014)

In an article analyzing the developments in Iraq, the daily Kayhan claimed that they constituted a Sunni plot against Shi'ites: "The swift collapse of Mosul was the result of a conspiracy between Arab officials in the province and ISIS, and of their collaboration in conquering the city."[12]


[1] Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzia Afkham and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a phone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart Zebari, condemned the "terrorist activity" in Iraq and stressed that Iran vigorously supports the Iraqi government in its struggle against "takfiri terrorism." IRNA (Iran), June 12, 2014; Fararu (Iran), June 11, 2014.

[2] Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, who is of Iraqi origin, issued a communique on June 11 calling on the Iraqi people to unite and stressing that internal disagreement would only serve Iraq's enemies. He called on the Iraq nation to send its sons to fight against any danger to Iraq., June 11, 2014. Senior Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani called on Iraqis to unite under the senior ayatollahs and "put out the fires of fitna [civil strife]" in their country., June 11, 2014.

[3] Ebtekar (Iran), June 12, 2014.

[5] See, for example, Iranian Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam in Mehr (Iran), June 11, 2014. Raja News, which is close to supporters of Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, exclusively reported on June 10, 2014, that commando forces belonging to the Kata'ib Hezbollah Iraq Shi'ite militia were dispatched to Mosul to liberate it from ISIS. Raja News explained that Katai'ib Hezbollah forces were also on the ground in Syria and played an important part in liberating Rif Dimashq, Kalamoon, Al-Qusayr, Homs, and Aleppo, after carrying out operations against the Americans in Iraq.

[6] Tasnim (Iran), June 12, 2014.

[7] Kayhan (Iran), June 10, 2014;, June 11, 2014.

[8] ISNA (Iran), June 12, 2014.

[9] Fars (Iran), June 11, 2014.

[10] Javan (Iran), June 11, 2014.

[11] Jomhouri-e Eslami (Iran), June 12, 2014.

[12] Kayhan (Iran), June 12, 2014.

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