It is quite ironic that the world should be coming together to fight for Iraq, which divided the International Community just over a decade ago, to combat the threat of the Islamic State when the presence of terrorist groups in the Middle East has become far too commonplace. Aside from the ferocity of the Islamic State and the destabilization nature of its presence during a time when the Middle East is struggling to cope with great social change, the reason so many countries are targeting this particular terrorist group is that it has managed to make everyone its enemy. Despite this common interest, however, the threat of the Islamic State, just as the threat of globalized terrorism in general, remains second to global politics.
Where it is relevantly easy for Western nations to unite when a situation presents a “clear and present danger,” i.e. there is popular/political support for taking action, the bulk of the Middle East has long been open to controlled Western Intervention while Arab countries are beginning to see the need for contributing to their own regional security interests. Russia, of course, enjoys a similar natural alliance with Syria and Iran; whereas, the US is at odds with the Syrian government as well as the Iranian government. Clearly, Russian involvement in the Ukraine Crisis and Western sanctions against Russia nullifies the ability of America to directly work with Russia when it comes to taking action against the Islamic State. If Russian President Vladimir Putin had not acted to secure Russian influence over Ukraine’s political process, the Islamic State threat would have actually represented a perfect opportunity for Russia to assert itself as a credible global power.
As complicated as the Ukraine Crisis makes coalition building for Iraq, which enjoys connections with the US dominated allies and the Russian dominated allies, the fact that the United States has been trying to normalize diplomatic relationships with Iran by addressing serious grievances, such as the Iranian nuclear program, only further muddies the water. The reality is that the Iran Talks have been sidelined by more pressing issues throughout the globe and that means the best outcome now is an agreement to continue trying. Although President Hassan Rouhani represents a moderating movement in Iran, it is almost certain that hardliner “conservatives” are pushing back given the lack of immediate success, thus Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has openly voiced his frustration with diplomatic efforts, must take steps to stave off political infighting and avoid burning too much political capital in their efforts to lift US sanctions.
Given this reality and the fact the United States cannot politically coordinate intervention efforts with Iran, it only makes senses why the Iranian President would so fiercely criticize US plans as the US openly discounts cooperation with Iran, which is likely experienced as a slap in the face to Rouhani. Because Iran is also interested in asserting itself as a regional power and the government faces the threat of political dissent, the Supreme Leader is compelled to distance himself from efforts to stabilize relations with the United States, henceforth, the reason he has tried to publicly delegitimize US efforts to address the Islamic State despite Iran’s interest in doing so. As Iran is allied with both Iraq, which obviously wants Western intervention yet must balance its relationship with Iran, and the Assad regime in Syria, which correctly views a coalition effort as a threat, Iran, Iraq, and Syria face serious conflicts of interests when it comes to US, Western, and Arabic League intervention. Consequently, the world will just have to wait and see if the Islamic State threat is enough to override these conflicting interests permanently or, at least, temporarily
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