The propaganda of the American-Iranian dispute
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed
The sudden dispute over striking ISIS has a backstory. At the beginning, all parties agreed to fight the terrorist organizations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the al-Nusra Front following the flash victories ISIS achieved in Iraq. These parties are Iran, the United States, Russia, the Gulf states, European countries and Turkey. This agreement was highlighted by the quick political transition in Baghdad, where a crisis in governance could have lasted for months. Nouri al-Maliki was removed from the premiership post in less than two weeks and everyone agreed to assign a prime minister, a parliament speaker and a president. Then, American forces began their aerial military operations against ISIS and drove its fighters out of the areas surrounding the Mosul Dam and Sinjar and forced them to flee deeper into Iraq and Syria.
Saudi Arabia knows that ISIS is hiding close to its borders on the Iraqi side. Europe has realized that hundreds of these ISIS fighters have European nationality and will return
However, these were limited operations and ISIS has enough men and arms to once again threaten the security of Iraq, the region and perhaps the world. Therefore, concerned countries decided to hold a conference to hammer out a strategy to confront this security threat which has targeted them all in one way or another.
Take Turkey as an example. Some of its consulate employees are still being held hostage by ISIS, which is threatening to kill them. Saudi Arabia knows that ISIS is hiding close to its borders on the Iraqi side. Europe has realized that hundreds of these ISIS fighters have European nationality and will return to Europe in the future and pose a threat to it. Meanwhile, Russia was one of the most enthusiastic countries to fight against ISIS and the al-Nusra Front.
However, as the conference neared, the Iranian government requested that the Syrian regime be invited to attend. It was only normal that the host country, Saudi Arabia, reject this request as Assad’s regime is the cause and the problem and if it had accepted the peaceful solution approved at the Geneva I conference, ISIS wouldn’t have been even born and this chaos, bloodshed and the displacement of millions of people would not have happened. It is also the Syrian regime which released al-Qaeda prisoners and which handed over poorly protected areas to ISIS in order to harm the Free Syrian Army. Above all that, if ISIS has so far killed 5,000 people, then what of the 200,000 civilian victims the Syrian regime has killed?
Therefore, when fighting terrorism, it’s not possible to cooperate with a party whose hands are stained with blood!
Despite that, the Iranians said the Assad regime’s participation is a pre-condition for their attendance. The Russians followed in Iran’s footsteps and said they will boycott the anti-ISIS conference. At this point, the celebratory rhetoric promising to confront terrorism turned into a defense of ISIS as the conference was depicted as a war on the Syrian and Iraqi people and as a plan for a new occupation. This came in addition to other nonsense the media has circulated over the past few days.
This makes us more confident that ISIS serves both the Assad regime and the Iranian regime, particularly in Syria but not in the entirety of Iraq. During an embarrassing moment following the collapse of Mosul, many were afraid Baghdad would be next so they needed the U.S.’s military support and Saudi Arabia’s political support to save the Iraqi regime in Baghdad.
There is currently an Iranian propaganda push being disseminated via daily newspapers, TV satellite channels, Twitter and other social networking websites. This propaganda push is seeking to throw doubt on the aims of the conference, distorting facts and making it seem as though confronting ISIS is an act that serves the West.
Truth be told, the region’s countries have been calling on the international community – particularly on the U.S. – for two years, asking them to cooperate in confronting these dangerous terrorist groups. Unfortunately, the White House rejected these appeals. The American president had to act, following international pressures and after the atrocities committed by ISIS and al-Nusra spread and after thousands of civilians were killed and displaced regardless of their sects and ethnicities. Those who are afraid of this international action include Iran and the Assad regime because ISIS plays a sabotaging role against the rebels in Syria and because the Americans are, for the first time, convinced that supporting the Free Syrian Army may be the only means to establish a political regime, as an alternative to Assad’s worn-out regime, to confront terrorism. This is why Iran and Russia decided to launch a propaganda campaign to discredit Jeddah’s conference and to distort the international campaign working towards cooperating against terrorism. Many partisan groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and others, are now echoing this Iranian propaganda as well.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.