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Iran's Leaders on Syria Crisis

            Iranian officials are skeptical about U.S. intentions in Syria, casting doubt on both the motives behind U.S. air strikes against ISIS and the effectiveness of this strategy. Senior Iranian political and military leaders instead claim that strengthening Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s government is the key to defeating ISIS. Iran has been a stalwart ally of Syria since the uprising began in spring 2011, unwavering in its political and military support of Assad’s government. The following are excerpted remarks by Iranian leaders on the Syria crisis and U.S. military intervention against ISIS.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

            “This takfiri orientation - the thing that has emerged in Iraq, Syria and some other regional countries today and that confronts all Muslims, not just Shias - is the handicraft of colonialists themselves. They made something called al-Qaida and DAESH in order to confront the Islamic Republic and the movement of the Islamic Awakening. However, this product has become a burden for themselves.”
            Oct. 13, 2014, according to Khamenei’s website
President Hassan Rouhani

      Rouhani referred to Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard's remarks that certain western states are ready to fight terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, and said, “We are happy that the West has realized the clear truth on which Iran has always insisted. We hope that it would be serious on it.”

      Sept. 8,2014, according to  Iranian Student News Agency
      “First, stability must return to Syria, and that will not be possible without help from the central government, even though certain criticisms might be directed at it.”
            “We must uproot terrorism so that security could return to Syria and the conditions for the return of Syrian refugees from neighboring countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon would be provided.”
            Sept. 23, 2014, according to Mehr News

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
      “You cannot fight ISIS and the government in Damascus together.”
      Sept. 19, 2014, according to Kayhan
Supreme National Security Council Chief Ali Shamkhani
       “The principled stance of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding full support for the friendly and brotherly country, Syria, which is on the frontline of the fight against terrorism, will continue with seriousness.” 
      “The formation of the so-called (U.S.-led) coalition against ISIL and the (concomitant) media hype by the West and its regional allies, which are in stark contrast with their previous measures in supporting the formation of terrorist groups, is an undeniable evidence of the accuracy of the principled policies of the Iranian and Syrian governments regarding incessant fight against Takfiri terrorists over the past three years.” 
            Oct. 1, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
            "In spite of the Syrian government's readiness to hold political dialogue with different Syrian groups, irresponsible behavior of certain Western and regional countries as well as arming the opponents and provoking them to kill people has been the main obstacle to the establishment of calm in Syria."
            Oct. 20, 2014, according to PressTV
Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
      “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy is to support Syria and this U.S. action is from a bullying position and is condemned and if it does so, it will regret it.”
      “The U.S. is disappointed with any influential role to be played by the ISIL and similar groups and it is calling for this so-called coalition. We doubt if their serious objective is to annihilate the ISIL.”
      Sept. 16, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
      “Iran’s reaction to the Syrian issue has only a political dimension, and we do not intervene directly or military-wise. We will, however, continue our support of the Syrian government and condemn the U.S. attempts at mobilizing the rebel groups.”
            Sept. 16, 2014, according to Mehr News

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
       “The U.S. move in invading Syria that was made outside the internationally-recognized barriers was breaching the national legitimacy of that country and the international rules and regulations and will beyond doubt have numerous negative aftermaths in the international scene.”
      “The responsibility of the new U.S. move, including getting killed and wounded of innocent (Syrian) citizens is on the shoulders of those who have paved the path for entering of weapons and terrorists into Syria and some other countries in the region and with their financial and military support for the extremist groups expand the dimensions of the Syrian and regional crises.”
            Sept. 23, according to Islamic Republic News Agency
            “The (U.S.) operation is in line with previous interventionist measures in the region which made regional issues more complicated.”
            Sept. 24, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
            “Kobani is part of Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity and if the Syrian government makes a demand, we will be ready to provide any assistance it wants.”
            Oct. 10, 2014, according to Fars News
Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the best way to battle ISIL and terrorism in the region is to help Iraqi and Syrian states, which are fighting terrorism in practice.”
            Sept. 15, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
            “They can carry out serious terrorist operations anywhere in the world. The U.S. has now realized this and called for cooperation with Iran...But we have doubts about their intention to fight terrorism.”
            Sept. 22, 2014, according to Kayhan
            “Although it was the U.S. that decided to intervene militarily in Syria and violate its sovereignty with the help of certain regional states, it is not the U.S. that decides to put an end to this.”
            Sept. 25, 2014, according to Islamic Republic News Agency
            “The illegal and manic attacks of the U.S. on Syria will bring nothing but more extremism in the region.”
            Sept. 30, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran will take any necessary action to help the Kurds in Kobani in line with its support for the Syrian government in its fight against terrorism.”
            Oct. 10, 2014, according to Fars News
            “Iran will not allow terrorists to overthrow Bashar al Assad.”
            Oct. 10, 2014, according to Tasnim News
            “We do not mean to say that (President) Bashar al Assad should be the lifetime president of Syria, but we will not permit the anti-ISIS terrorists’ coalition to topple that country’s government, or to harm the resistance axis.”
            “We have properly conveyed this message to Washington that if there is going to be a regime change scenario in Syria from the campaign against terrorism then the Zionist regime, too, will be deprived of security.”
            “We have differences of opinion with some of our friends in the region, including Turkey, on such issues as Syria; Turkey says Bashar Assad should go. We tell them that either the staying or the going of Bashar Assad is none or our, your, nor U.S. business, as decision making in that respect should be left up to the Syrian nation.”
            Oct. 10, 2014, according to Islamic Republic News Agency
            “Iran sees serious contradictions in the US and its allies’ intentions in regard to the Syrian issue and fighting terrorism, as well as ISIL in the region, and it seems they do not intend to learn from their repeated mistakes in the past.”
            “Resolving the Syrian crisis is only possible through assuming a real and serious fighting stance against terrorism, sending international humanitarian aid, making endeavors to help misplaced citizens settle back into their country, and respecting the people’s decisions and the territorial integrity of Syria.”
            Nov. 2, 2014 according to the press
            “If there weren’t the strong resistance of the Syrian government under leadership of President Bashar al Assad and the support of the Syrian people to the campaign against the Takfiri terrorists, the world would have witnessed dominance of terrorists on Damascus.”
            Nov. 6, 2014 according to the press
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri
            “The U.S. and its allies are manipulating the fight against the ISIL as a tool to topple the legal government of Bashar al Assad in Syria.”
            Oct. 17, 2014, according to Fars News
            "Using the largest current of state terrorism in the past three years, the U.S. has attempted to take this chain of regional resistance off the track, but the resistance of the Syrian government and nation prevented the U.S. and its partners from achieving this evil goal."
            Oct. 18, 2014, according to PressTV
United States
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, General John Allen
            "No, we haven’t invited Iran into the coalition but we have welcomed Iran’s constructive role in Iraq and, of course, Iran is very attentive in terms of what we are doing and saying in terms of Syria as well. So it is important, once again, to be very clear that we seek a political outcome where there will be many voices that contribute to that political outcome [in Syria]. That political outcome will not include Assad and I don’t want to get into the details of interim governments and all of those measures that are on the table. However we recognize that Iran is a key influence in Iraq, in Syria and in the region. As we continue to move forward we are going to continue to listen very carefully to the things they [Iran] have to say and we will see where that goes."
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
Bashar al Assad
      “Syrian nation welcomes readiness of Iran and other friendly countries for rebuilding Syria.”
      Sept. 6, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
      “Syria appreciates Iran which has stood by Syria in the face of challenges targeting all regional states’ interests.”

       Sept. 3, 2014, according to Islamic Republic News Agency



Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid al Moualem

            “Let us together stop [ISIS] ideology and its exporters, let us, simultaneously, exert pressure on the countries that joined the coalition led by the United States to stop their support of armed terrorist groups…Only then combating terrorism militarily becomes viable.”
            Oct. 1, 2014, according to Al-Bawaba News
Shiite militia and political movement in Lebanon
Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah
            “We are against American military intervention and an international coalition in Syria, whether that [action] is against the regime or IS.”
            “U.S. military intervention, whether under the guise of an international coalition or under the cover of NATO or under the guise of multinational forces: we have a principled position based on basic rules and norms.”
            “America is, in our view, the mother of terrorism and the origin of terrorism.”
Sept. 23, 2014, according to Reuters
Photo credit: Bashar al Assad by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr [CC-BY-3.0-br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons




Vienna Nuke Talks: A Little Headway

            The world’s six major powers and Iran have made some progress in nuclear talks, but disagreements remain over the scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and a timeline for implementing a deal. A U.S. official, however, suggested that an agreement is still possible by the November 24 deadline, and discussions of an extension are premature. In a State Department briefing, a U.S. official emphasized that these talks focus on "a full agreement - not only the understandings, but all of the annexes that go with those understandings." Negotiations were “very difficult,” but there “was progress in all fields,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to Reuters. E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif on October 15.The following are remarks by U.S. and Iranian officials and a State Department briefing on the state of diplomacy.

United States
Secretary of State John Kerry
            “I am glad that all of the pundits and speculators are doubting whether [agreement] can be reached.”
            “But we have some tough issues to resolve. I am not going to prognosticate. We need to continue to have some serious discussions and see where we are.”
            “I don't believe it's out of reach, but we have some tough issues to resolve.
            Oct. 14, 2014 according to Al-Monitor and AFP, following a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Senior State Department Official

I just told Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi that that I was coming down to do a backgrounder, and I said, you know, “You’ll know what I’m going to say.”  And his suggestion was that I simply hand you the transcript from the last one, and that would probably do the trick.  (Laughter.)  So we thought that was pretty funny.  Obviously, you don’t think that’s so funny, but we all thought it was pretty funny.

As [Moderator] said, the Secretary, the high representative, and Foreign Minister Zarif are still meeting.  They began again at 8:30 this evening after having met for some hours this afternoon.  Let me say in general that you all know that Iran has said that they don’t want a nuclear weapon, have never wanted a nuclear weapon, never will have a nuclear weapon, including in a fatwa by the Supreme Leader.

What these negotiations are about is whether Iran is willing to take verifiable actions to show the world that their program is indeed exclusively for peaceful purposes.

Yesterday we met bilaterally for the day with the Iranian negotiating team at the deputy foreign minister level, having included Helga Schmid and the EU team who also had their own bilateral meeting as well, but we included them in ours because everything that we do is in the context of the P5+1 or E3+3 or E3+3+EU meetings – (laughter) – whichever moniker you choose to use.  And so we think as we are coming down the road here, we think it’s quite important to stay very, very tightly coordinated, and so we were very glad that Helga Schmid could join us and her team could join us.

We met yesterday probably for both at the political level...So we met both at the political level and our experts met in parallel for several hours yesterday.

We went over every issue, but Iran thinks it’s important to meet with the United States from time to time because not only do we hold a number of the sanctions that are of greatest interest to them, but we – they are also very interested in our views on what needs to be accomplished.  But they have bilaterals with every member of the E3+3 and so we have them as well now on a regular basis.

Today, Secretary Kerry, Baroness Ashton, and Foreign Minister Zarif met trilaterally for about four hours this afternoon, and then they started again this evening.  Tomorrow, the High Representative and the Foreign Minister will convene a meeting with all of the P5+1 political directors.  One of the things that we try to do is whenever anyone has a bilateral, either by phone, by SVTC, by meeting – and this time it’s meeting – we want to debrief each other, we want to stay well coordinated, we want to discuss next steps.  So we will have a debriefing session with the High Representative and the Foreign Minister, and then we will have some internal meetings to discuss how we’re going to proceed next as a group.

Everyone’s been working incredibly hard.  You all know – those of you who have lived this life with all of us know that these are incredibly complex negotiations.  The detail is extraordinary.  Every line of any political agreement has pages of annexes that are attached to it because the detail absolutely is critical to all of this.

The discussions remain very intense, very focused, very concrete; continue to cover every issue that needs to be part of the comprehensive agreement, because again, you all are tired of me saying but it is true:  Until everything is agreed, nothing is agreed, and you can get 98 percent of the way there and the last two percent may kill the entire deal.  So you’ve got to get it all or you don’t have an agreement, so you constantly are getting closer and then you move away because you have to manage another element, and then you find your way back again until all the pieces come together.  So I know it gets frustrating for the press to want to say, “Well, have you made progress?  Where are you?”  But it’s really an amoeba that sort of moves in and out until all of the pieces lock into place.

We’ve been very deliberately working through all the technical issues.  Our expert team and all of the experts at the E3+3 are simply extraordinary, do amazing work.  We’ve been chipping away at some of the issues.  Everyone has put ideas on the table to see if we can move the ball forward.  We have and continue to make some progress, but there is still a substantial amount of work to be done.

Many people, including the President of the United States in his UN General Assembly speech, have said what a historic opportunity this is.  We agree, obviously, with the President.  And as the President also said, we hope Iran decides to take advantage of this historic opportunity.  We can foresee a way forward through a verifiable agreement that both resolves the international community’s concerns about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and also provides the Iranian people with more economic opportunity and an end to isolation, and a time certain after duration of the agreement when Iran will be treated as any other non-nuclear-weapon state under the NPT.  But the question remains, and we will know when we get to the end of this process, whether Iran’s leaders can and will seize this opportunity.

Could you talk about what the biggest hangups are right now, what are the big sticking points that still need to be resolved?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  You’re not going to like my answer.  It’s sort of everything, in the sense that we have a lot of detail on every single subject.  We know where we are headed.  We know what we each want the objective to be and we’re trying to narrow those gaps.  But we have to do so in a way that ensures that all of the pathways to fissile material for a nuclear weapon are shut down.

So the pathway to using weapons-grade plutonium, which is best evidenced by the Arak reactor – and we have some possible solutions to that.  I think most people know that we’ve been discussing some technical ways to deal with this.  But they are substantial and they are detailed, and so you have to know every one of the details to know whether you can get there or not.  We have to shut down the enriched uranium path, and that’s Natanz and Fordow.

We obviously hope that we can deal with both of those, but there are many elements to each of those facilities that have to be dealt with.  And then we want to make sure we shut down the covert path, and that is largely done through very specific and very meaningful and concrete verification and monitoring mechanisms.

And each one of these pathways has layers and layers of detail, and you have to understand every one of those layers to know whether what you think you’ve gotten really works.
QUESTION:  Michele Kelemen with NPR.  Can you give us a sense of just what the mood is here?  Do they feel like they’re really at the end point, or is there talk of moving it on?  I mean, even Lavrov today – yesterday was saying that this November 24th date isn’t sacrosanct.  It’s –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Well, we’re all still focused – those of us who are working on this day by day – on November 24th and getting to an agreement by November 24th.  We’re not taking the pressure off ourselves or this process.
QUESTION:  Is that partly because of U.S. politics?

  No, that’s because if you take the pressure off yourself, then you never have to make hard decisions.  And deadlines help people to make hard decisions, and there are hard decisions to be made here.  And we must.  So we are all keeping the pressure on ourselves, and that includes Iran.

In terms of mood, in a professional way, we all know each other pretty well now.  You can tell when the Deputy Foreign Minister jokes.  He reads the transcripts of these backgrounders, and when he can joke, “Why don’t you just hand over the last one?  You’re going to say the same thing,” it’s reached a level of we know each other well enough to make jokes.
But that, of course, will not get an agreement done.  The discussions are very serious.  They’re very direct.  They’re very detailed.  All of us, even those of us at the political level, have learned more about this process than we ever imagined we would know.  I’m very lucky, because I have this fantastic team and more who stand behind them, both here, back in Washington, and in our labs in Los Alamos, for instance, who help me every single day to figure out what to do here.

QUESTION:  Was there any talk or consideration at all given to an extension, and would you rule that out?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  We have not discussed an extension.  We believe on keeping the pressure on ourselves.  I have said in previous backgrounders that I’m – know enough about negotiations that you never say never, but today we are focused on November 24th and November 24th only.

QUESTION: It seems increasingly unlikely that you’re going – and I think few people expect you to come up with a full-fledged comprehensive settlement of this issue by November 24th.  And so what most people think is going to happen is you’ll either negotiate another version of the Joint Plan of Action, perhaps with some enhanced measures.  If you – keeping the November 24th deadline, is it – would it be sufficient in your view to negotiate an accord that continued the terms now in place for the Joint Plan of Action, or do you have to get something more than that just to address the concerns of the American Congress?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  So what we are working on now is a full agreement – not only the understandings, but all of the annexes that go with those understandings.  This is a situation where unless you have the detail, you do not know that you have the agreement you think you have.  It’s just as simple as that.  They are not – they are inseparable.

QUESTION:  Since you said the goal is a full agreement with all of the annexes, does that rule out a sort of – I don’t want to say another interim agreement, but an agreement that moves the ball forward by the end of November but doesn’t go to – doesn’t include all of the legal reservations, all of the understandings, and that work could continue past that deadline with some sort of interim agreement?

  Let me repeat what I say:  We are only focused on one thing right now, and that is having a full agreement done by the 24th of November.
QUESTION:  Could I ask what the schedule is looking like for the next few weeks coming up towards November 24th?  Are you going to repeat what happened in July when you met (inaudible) in Vienna for a period of weeks?

  One of the reasons that all of the political directors are getting together tomorrow first to hear the debrief from the High Representative and the Foreign Minister, and then to have an internal discussion among ourselves, is to decide what makes sense in terms of the next step forward.  I would imagine that out of the meeting that the High Representative having – hosting right now with Minister Zarif and Secretary Kerry, they may have some ideas they want to present to us about how they think we should go forward.  But this is a decision for the E3+3, not just for the United States, so – or even the high representative or the Iranians.  It is a decision for all of the E3+3 and we will discuss that tomorrow.

QUESTION:  On November 12th of last year, in a similar setting in a neighboring country – (laughter) – we were made to understand that agreement on the P5+1 was four or five words away.  Has it been the same four or five words for 11 months, or are there different words now?

Who said it was four or five words?

MODERATOR:  That was before the JPOA was finished, though. 

QUESTION:  How close are you to a final?  Three – roughly three quarters of the way there, or --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I can’t – I know people want to put percentages on this, but I have said and I will say it again – this is where you get tired of listening to me – you can’t put a percentage on it, because even if you thought you were 75 percent of the way or even 98 percent of the way there, that last two percent may be the most important 2 percent there is, may be the glue that puts it all together.  So can’t put a percentage on it. 
            Oct. 15, 2014, according to the U.S. Department of State
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
            “Our will is that in 40 days the matter will be resolved. But if other things happen and we are not able to solve all the problems, the two camps will find a solution.”
            Oct. 10, 2014 on state television
            “We are tired and we have to finish this issue.”
“Either way, a solution to the nuclear issues will be found and certainly the two sides will reach an agreement.”
            “This shows that the situation has changed.”
            Oct. 14, 2014 to Al-Monitor
Ayatollah Khamenei


Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
            “Reaching an agreement in this round is very unlikely because there are issues that still remain that need to be resolved.”
            “On the agenda is the volume of uranium enrichment and the timetable for lifting the sanctions.”
            Oct. 14, 2014 according to Al-Monitor
            “All the negotiations that we have had so far have been sensitive and this round of negotiations can level the path to a final agreement.”
            “Of course, it will be much unlikely to achieve a deal in these negotiations because the issues which need to be settled are still too many.”
            "As our president has said there is a general understanding over the bases of issues, but these are details like the volume of enrichment, and the manner and the time-table for the removal of the sanctions which are of vital importance and which have been under discussion in the last several rounds of the talks."
            Oct. 14, 2014 according to Fars News
            “We hope that the opposite side would accept both the realities that exist at regional and international levels, and the realities of Iran’s nuclear program, which is an advanced peaceful program, to be able to find a solution which would benefit all.”
            Oct. 14, 2014 according to Press TV
            “We will make our utmost effort to make the best use of the negotiations in these days in Vienna to settle problems”
            Oct. 15, 2014 according to Press TV
            “It was very difficult, serious and intensive…but instead of focusing on problems, we discussed solutions as well…There was progress in all fields.”
            “We still need serious discussions over various issues.”
            Oct. 16, 2014 according to Reuters
Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi
            “Iran and Western powers are very determined and serious to reach a result. Issues like enrichment and lifting of sanctions will be discussed in Vienna.”
            Oct. 10, 2014 according to Reuters
            “The negotiations will be held on issues like sanctions, the ways to remove them and enrichment and we hope that it will be a path to the settlement of the problems between Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany).”
            “We are not pessimistic about reaching results by the November 24 and if we don’t reach sufficient results in this round of talks (in Vienna), we will definitely be unable to attain the final result by November 24 either.”
            Oct. 11, 2014 according to Fars News
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to speed up resolution of issues through cooperation with the Agency, and is prepared to resolve all these issues with the Agency one after the other.”
            Oct. 14, 2014 according to the Eurasian Review

             “Neither of the negotiating parties is interested in the extension of the talks. All sides are determined to achieve an agreement prior to the deadline. Therefore, extension is not on the agenda of any of the parties.”
            Oct. 19, 2014 according to the press


Iran's Leaders on Iraq Crisis and ISIS

             Iran’s policy on Iraq has evolved as the Islamic State (IS) has taken more territory since June. President Hassan Rouhani and one his advisors initially suggested Tehran could cooperate with Washington on countering IS militants. But senior military, political and religious leaders, including Rouhani, have increasingly criticized Western responses to the crisis and blamed U.S. policies for the emergence of IS. “It is naive to think that simply conducting air strikes will solve the terrorist problem,” Rouhani warned in September, likely referring to U.S. actions against IS.
              Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out cooperation with Washington on IS. He has also blamed the United States, along with Sunni Gulf states, for allowing extremist groups to flourish in the region. “The real fight is between those who want to bring back a U.S. presence and those who want Iraqi independence,” Khamenei said on June 22.  The supreme leader has questioned Washington's motives for fighting IS. The following tweet is from a statement released on September 15, the day 20 representatives from Western and Middle Eastern countries met in Paris to form an anti-IS coalition.  
            Iran was not invited to be part of the coalition. But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that Tehran does have a role to play in countering ISIS in remarks at U.N. headquarters on September 19. 
            Iran remains a stalwart supporter of Iraq’s central government and opposes intervention by outside powers. "The best way of fighting IS and terrorism in the region is to help and strengthen the Iraqi and Syrian governments,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told a visiting French lawmaker in Tehran. Iran has sent advisers to Baghdad and to Iraqi Kurdistan but has denied reports that it has sent troops.
            Tehran’s endorsement of Haidar al Abadi as Iraq’s new prime minister suggests that Iran recognizes that former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government may have been a factor that led to the current crisis.
Maliki's government had alienated both Sunnis and Kurds. "As the new prime minister is elected, God willing, problems will be solved and the government will give a good lesson to terrorists who seek sedition in Iraq,” Khamenei told Iranian diplomats in August. Abadi, a Shiite, hails from al Maliki’s Islamic Da’wa Party.
            The following are excerpted remarks by Iranian leaders on Abadi’s nomination and U.S. airstrikes with comments on the Iraqi crisis since June.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
            “What has happened in Iraq which broke the backbone of ISIS was not done by Americans but by the Iraqi people and Army. Both ISIS and Americans know this well.
            “We are proud that the US has become disappointed at Iran not having a part in a collective wrongdoing.
             “Right from the start, the United States asked through its ambassador in Iraq whether we could cooperate against ISIS. I said no, because they have dirty hands.
            “How can it be possible to cooperate with the United States in such conditions?
            “Secretary of State [John Kerry] personally asked [his Iranian counterpart] Mohammad Javad Zarif and he rejected the request.
            “Even the American deputy foreign minister, who is a woman and everyone knows her, had repeated this request in a meeting with Mr. Araghchi again. But Mr. Araghchi also rejected her request.”
            Washington wants a “pretext to do in Iraq and Syria what it already does in Pakistan -- bomb anywhere without authorization.”
            Sept. 15, 2014 in a statement published online and by the press
           “We are strongly against the interference of the US and others in Iraq’s internal affairs and do not approve of it, because we believe that the Iraqi government, nation and religious authority are capable of ending this sedition and will end it, God willing.
           “The United States is dissatisfied with the result of elections in Iraq and they want to deprive the Iraqi people of their achievement of a democratic system, which they achieved without U.S. interference.”
           “What is happening in Iraq is not a war between Shiites and Sunnis. Arrogant powers want to use the remnants of Saddam’s regime and takfiri [ISIS] extremists to deprive Iraq of stability and tranquility.”

           June 22, 2014 at a meeting with judiciary officials

            "The present circumstances in the region, including in Iraq, are the outcome of irresponsible policies adopted by trans-regional powers and certain regional countries in Syria."
            "We believe that the Iraqi nation and government, particularly the country's youths, are capable of overcoming terrorists and establishing security and there is no need for the presence of foreigners."
            Oct. 22, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
            “During the period of power transition in Iraq, [former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki] did a great job preventing turmoil and instability in the country, and the move will never fade into oblivion in Iraq.”
            Nov. 10, 2014 according to the press
President Hassan Rouhani
            “Tehran considers Iraq's security and stability as its own security and stability.”
            Sept. 25, 2014 in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al Abadi 
             “Americans are very aware that the country that prevented the [Baghdad] government from falling was Iran. Iran’s role has been undeniable.”
             “Can countries [carry out this effort] without cooperation and coordination and succeed? Is a coalition needed? If so, who is best suited to lead? …Is it possible [to defeat extremism] without [addressing root causes and] without knowing the region very well?”
             “Countries in the region are much more qualified to lead [the anti-ISIS] efforts than those who are outside and don’t know the region as well.”
             “The Americans are free [to make their own] judgment, but people are aware that the strongest government that has taken the strongest fight against terrorism has been Iran.
             “Those who played a role in creating these terrorists … how can these same countries today say they want to fight these terrorists?”
             This policy is “clearly nebulous and ambiguous at best. I can assure you this will not succeed in the end. This is a very confusing behavior and policy.”
             “Bombarding a country has a legal process. It should take place within the framework of the U.N., or that country's leaders should have asked for it to be carried out officially and formally.”
             “[It’s not] legal, particularly without the authority of the government.”
             If “we want to bring an end to terrorist activities in Syria … you cannot reach that objective without a central government. First, we must drive out the terrorists.”
             Sept. 23, 2014 at a breakfast meeting with journalists (via Lobe LogAPReuters,Bloomberg, and Al-Monitor)
             The U.S.-led coalition against IS is “ridiculous.”
             “Are Americans afraid of giving casualties on the ground in Iraq? Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?
             “If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody is injured from the Americans, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice? Is it possible to reach a big goal without that? In all regional and international issues, the victorious one is the one who is ready to do sacrifice.
             “Maybe it is necessary for airstrikes in some conditions and some circumstances. However, air strikes should take place with the permission of the people of that country and the government of that country.
             “They [IS militants] want to kill humanity. And from the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it's the matter of concern and sorrow for humanity and all the mankind."
             “When we say the red line we mean the red line. It means we will not allow Baghdad to be occupied by the terrorists or the religious sites such as Karbala or Najaf be occupied by the terrorists.”
             Sept. 16, 2014 in an interview with NBC News
             “It is naive to think that simply conducting air strikes will solve the terrorist problem. [This strategy] does not address the complexity of the issue. In order to understand the culture of violence that is terrorism, there has to be an understanding of the political and social issues of the region.”
             Sept. 11, 2014 in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin according to the press (translation via Brookings)
             “The Islamic Republic will not tolerate violence and terror as foreign-backed takfiri militants wreak havoc in northern Iraq.
             “As the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will not tolerate the [acts of] violence and terror and we fight violence and terrorism in the region and in the world.
             “We all should practically and verbally confront terrorist groups. We can think about it [cooperation with the United States] if we see America starts confronting the terrorist groups in Iraq or elsewhere.
             “Iran has never dispatched any forces to Iraq and it is very unlikely it will ever happen.”
             June 14, 2014 during a press conference
              “Regarding the holy Shia shines in Karbala, Najaf, Khadhimiya and Samarra, we announce to the killers and terrorists that the big Iranian nation will not hesitate to protect holy shrines.
              “These terrorist groups, and those that fund them, both in the region and in the international arena, are nothing, and hopefully they will be put in their own place.”
             June 18, 2014 in a speech to a crowd in Lorestan province
             “I advise Muslim countries that support the terrorists with their petrodollars to stop.
             “Tomorrow you will be targeted... by these savage terrorists. Wash your hands of killing and the killing of Muslims.
             “For centuries, Shiites and Sunnis have lived alongside each other in Iran, Iraq, the Levant, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf and North Africa...in peaceful coexistence.”
             June 22, 2014, according to press
             “If the Iraqi government wants help, we will study it; of course no demand has yet been raised until today but we are ready for help within the framework of the international laws and at the request of the Iraqi nation.
             “Of course, we should know that help and assistance is one issue, and interference and entrance [into the battlefield] is another. If the Iraqi government demands us we will help them, but the entrance of the Iranian troops [onto the scene of battles in Iraq] has never been considered.
             “Since the onset of its establishment, the Islamic Republic has never taken such measures and we have never sent our troops to another country for operations. Of course, we will provide countries with our consultative views.”
             June 24, 2014, according to press

             “Unfortunately, we face two festering tumors in this region and across the Muslim world. One tumor has always caused distress to the Palestinians and Muslims and these days it is secreting and wreaking havoc on the land of olive [trees]. The other festering tumor which is agonizing the Muslims these days is a campaign launched under the name of Islam, religion, caliphate and caliphacy and has undertaken the murder and killing of Muslims in the region. All studies indicate that both tumors have roots at the same point.

             July 28, 2014 in a meeting with Iranian officials and foreign diplomats
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has been supporting the Iraqi nation and army in fighting terrorists since the beginning, and will continue this approach and will not withhold any support from the Iraqi nation.”
            Oct. 21, 2014, according to Iranian Student News Agency
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
             “It is interesting and it is important for all of us to take that reality in perspective while we address various issues and as Iran, which has been a responsible power in the region. We have looked at the situation around us from that perspective, and that is why we've played a central role in dealing with ISIS. I wouldn't call it Islamic State, because it's neither Islamic, as President Obama rightly pointed out, nor a state. It's a terrorist organization, a sophisticated terrorist organization that has come to being because of a number of reasons. But Iran has taken a leading role in that.
             “And while Iran was not invited to Paris, which I would call a coalition of repenters, because most participants in that meeting in one form or another provided support to ISIS in the course of its creation and upbringing and expansion, actually at the end of the day, creating a Frankenstein that came to haunt its creators.
             “But Iran has been, as even attested to by President Barzani of the Iraqi Kurdish region, the first that came to the aid of the Iraqis in dealing with that problem. We don't hesitate in providing support to our friends, to deal with this menace. We believe that we need to deal with this menace. This is not a threat against a singular community, nor a threat against a singular region. It was not confined to Syria, nor will it be confined to Iraq. It's a global threat.
             “There are thousands of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria. And they come from all over the world. And that is why they have very little mercy for the people they occupy and they rule over. It's a very dangerous phenomenon, and we all need to be aware of how to deal with this issue. It will not be eradicated through aerial bombardment, because we need new tools to deal with these new realities.”
             “We do not support foreign military involvement in the region. We believe that foreign forces should -- if they are asked by the governments in the region, then we don't interfere with the decision of sovereign states in the region. But as a principle, we do not believe that injection of foreign forces, either air or ground, solves our problem.”
             “The best thing is to allow the Iraqis to fight this. This is the fight for the Iraqis. They should fight this. They should be provided with the assistance necessary to fight this. The Iraqi Sunnis should be provided with the necessary assistance to fight this. The Iraqi Sunni leadership, the Iraqi Sunni political community, has been uprooted from its places of origin.”
            Sept. 17, 2014 at a Council on Foreign Relations event
              “Our interest is to have a region free from extremism and terrorism. If that is how the United States defines its interests, then there may be a commonality. We have not seen that unfortunately, because we continue to see United States hesitation in dealing with this terrorist group when it comes to Syria.
              “We need to live with this threat, or deal with this threat. For the United States, it may see this, in my view, erroneously, as an option. The United States is dealing with this as an option. The option in Iraq. The option in Syria. There are no options here. This is a challenge that you need to deal with it squarely and seriously and not based on double standards.
              Sept. 17, 2014 in an interview with NPR
            “This threat is against all countries in the region, and that is why broad cooperation is needed among all regional states to take serious action against it [ISIS].”
            Sept. 22, 2014 in a meeting with his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan
             “We are cooperating and working... with the Iraqi government and with the Kurdish government in order to repel this very serious, atrocious group. But we do not believe that they need the presence of Iranian soldiers in order to do this task.”
            IS is “committing acts of horrendous genocide and crimes against humanity” and “needs to be tackled the international community and by every country in the region.”
            Aug. 24, 2014 in a press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
Interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour
AMANPOUR: You have other problems [besides the nuclear dispute]. Right now on your border, and that is the rise of ISIS in Iraq. How big a threat to Iran is ISIS?

ZARIF: I think this problem of extremism and sectarianism is a danger not only to Iraq and Syria

but to the entire region. We've been saying that --

AMANPOUR: But to Iran?

ZARIF: -- to Iran, too. Iran is a part of this region. We don't like instability in our neighborhood. Inside Iran, we are probably best protected from such waves of extremism than any of our neighbors. All our neighbors are more vulnerable to this threat than Iran is internally. 

But for us, our domestic security is inseparable from security of the region. So for us a secure Iraq, a secure Persian Gulf, a secure Afghanistan is as important as our own security.

So from that perspective, it becomes important. But we said it from the very beginning that this problem of extremism, violence and use of sectarian divisions in order to advance a political agenda was dangerous for all countries in the region and that is why we insisted from the very beginning that we need to have a strong unified stance against it.

AMANPOUR: And I presume you want a unified Iraq as well, because right now, it looks like it's fragmenting and it could possibly fragment.

I want to ask you specifically, Nouri al-Maliki is a product of Iran, according to everybody. In other words, Iran backed him in 2010 when he was reelected. Iran backed a lot of the people who he brought into his cabinet. And they are calling him extremely divisive, extremely sectarian and practically the opposite --They're calling him extremely divisive and extremely sectarian. Is al-Maliki the man that Iran wants to see as prime minister, no matter what?

ZARIF: Well, I think you made some assumptions that are not correct. Iran, first of all, wants Iraq territorial integrity and I have spoken to almost every regional foreign minister and all of them want to ensure that Iraq remains a secure with its own boundaries, national unity of Iraq. Disintegration of Iraq is going to be a disaster for the entire region. So that's given.

Iraq has a very lively democratic process. It's very young but very lively. People go and vote and people elect certain people. Our advice to the Iraqis, all of them, who’ve never supported any individual or party, our advice has been that you need to work, based on the democratic model, but at the same time to ensure that the government is inclusive, that the government represents various views.

Now you have a system in Iraq with an overwhelming majority of one group, but you have a system where the president is from one ethnicity; the speaker of the parliament is from another religious sectarian group. The prime minister is from another.

If you find this combination within the constitutional framework that Iraq has established and then allow various political parties to form a workable government that also represents all segments of Iraqi society, this is our desire. We're not in the business of supporting any individual. 

We support the Iraqi people. We support the choices of the Iraqi people, whoever Iraq can choose as its prime minister will have the full backing of Iran, whoever Iraq choose as its prime minister. 

And as its president and as its speaker of parliament, will have the full backing of Iran, because for us the number one issue is that we need to respect the choices of the Iraqi people. And my advice to countries in the West as well as countries in the region is to have respect for people, allow them to make their own choices. And once you allow them to make their own choices, they'll make the best choice.

AMANPOUR: Obviously Iraq has had a very painful history under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Obviously Iran suffered from that as well. But Prime Minister Maliki has at best treated the Sunnis as worse than junior partners, has basically frozen them out.

Do you think that the Shiite prime minister, because that’s what the constitution says it should be, should treat Sunnis as equals or as junior partners?

ZARIF: No, you see, it's a government based on democratic principles people have -- it doesn't matter whether you're Sunni --

AMANPOUR: It should be, but it hasn't happened.

ZARIF: -- no, no. You see, you have a government where political parties -- unfortunately some of them are along sectarian lines -- but political parties go to the polls, receive votes, some have more votes, some have less votes. They're different voting blocs in the Iraqi parliament.

Why do we need to send it into a sectarian issue? These are, in the United Kingdom, for instance, the prime minister is from one party; it has a coalition which works with another party. It's just a fact of life.

Why people need to make -- to insert divisive sectarian issues into this? We need to establish a government in Iraq that represents the views of the people but at the same time maybe if you have something exactly on that line, you will get only one group taking over all segments of Iraqi power structure and that is why you have these divisions and these attempts to bring everybody inside. 

It doesn’t mean that people who got the largest number of votes should be equally represented as people who got two votes in the parliament, that is not the meaning of democracy. Meaning of democracy is you get more votes; you get more seats in the parliament. You get more seats in the government. That's the reality.

But keeping that reality in mind, we insist that all segments of Iraqi society should be included in governing Iraq. That's the only way to ensure stability in Iraq and I'm sure all political parties, be Shia, Kurd, Sunni, all of them and non-sectarian, all of them have that objective in mind.

Now the way to achieve that objective may be different from -- based on one platform to another. But I think that's what we need to achieve. We should not start inserting sectarian divisions into Iraq.

Sectarian considerations are really dangerous for our region and really dangerous for the world. We live in a globalized world and it's very dangerous to fan these flames of sectarian hatred, one where it won't be contained in that area.

AMANPOUR: Is ISIS sufficient a threat for Iran and the United States to combat? Or does Iran not want to see any U.S. involvement in Iraq right now?

ZARIF: I think the international community needs to come together in order to deal with this threat of extremism and violence.

AMANPOUR: Specifically in Iraq.

ZARIF: In Iraq, in Syria, elsewhere. It requires a unified approach, not shortsighted policies, not infringing yourself in positions but really seeing the problem as it is. It is a problem of extremism. It is a problem of demagogues using inherent resentment that have arisen out of decades of injustice in our region.

But these are demagogues using these resentments in order to advance a very dangerous political agenda. And this dangerous political agenda may fit in the designs of some external powers. I don't know. I do not want to espouse conspiracy theories.

But what is important is everybody should come to realize that whatever their short-term interests are, in long term, this is a threat against everybody and everybody needs to have a unified international and regional stance against such acts of extremism and allowing it to take root in Iraq. 

Any political, any shortsighted political gain that some people believe they can derive from this unfortunate situation in Iraq is exactly shortsighted and will come to haunt them in the future.
Click here for more of the interview.
           “It is in the interest of everybody to stabilize the government of Iraq. If the U.S. has come to realize that these groups pose a threat to the security of the region, and if the U.S. truly wants to fight terrorism and extremism, then it’s a common global cause.”
            June 13, 2014 to Robin Wright for The New Yorker
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
      “Westerners are afraid of ISIS exploits in Iraq and Syria. They [Westerners] could not accept that the terrorists of ISIS can someday be a threat against them but now they are fearful.”
       Sept. 9, 2014 in an address at an international conference on the Palestinian issue
            “Obama has become concerned about the Kurds while many Christians, Sunni Muslims, Druze and Alawites were killed in Syria, but they [U.S. officials] remained silent.
            “Now, all of a sudden they have become conscious. This shows that they (US officials) have adopted a double standard and tactical approach toward this issue and this is wrong.”
           Aug. 12, 2014 to foreign ministry officials
            “The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are our friends [in Iraq].
            “We have always insisted that all ethnic groups must have active and constructive participation in Iraq's power structure".
            “We regard it as unacceptable to deprive any Iraqi ethnic group of their constitutional rights by anyone.”

            June 21, 2014 according to Parliament’s website 

Chairman of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi
            “The Americans, who strengthened terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are putting on a show in dealing with the ISIS instead of [taking] serious action.
Washington is just “posturing” to show “it has a role to play in the region.”
            Aug. 11, 2014 according to the press

Supreme National Security Council Chief Ali Shamkhani

      “The Islamic Republic of Iran, under its humanitarian and principled policies for the provision of security in the region, will continue confrontation with the terrorist groups and is ready to cooperate with the United Nations as the only legitimate source in this regard.”
      Oct. 20, 2014 in a meeting with the U.N. envoy to Syria


      “The framework provided by the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that the prime minister has been chosen by the majority group in the parliament.
       “We congratulate Haidar al-Abadi on his nomination as prime minister, for him personally and for religious dignitaries, the Iraqi population and its political groups.

Iran calls on “all groups and coalitions in Iraq to protect the national interest”and “deal with external threats.”
            Aug. 12, 2014 according to the press
            “The current crisis in Iraq is the result of the meddling and collaboration of the western and regional enemies of the Iraqi nation, who are seeking to prevent the Iraqi people’s will and determination from coming into action.”
           June 16, 2014 in a meeting with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani
           “Reports in Western media about possible Iran-U.S. cooperation are part of the West’s “psychological warfare” and are “completely unreal.”
            “As we have announced, we will examine the issue of helping (Iraq) within the framework of international regulations in case of an official request by the Iraqi government and this will be completely a bilateral process and has nothing to do with a third country.”
            June 16, 2014 according to Fars News Agency

Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
       “It is the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief that no one should aid countries like Syria and Iraq unless the work is limited counselling and advising. The people and governments of these countries can overcome their problems without the aid of any country.”
       June 24, 2014 at a ceremony for martyrs of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
      “The anti-ISIL coalition should take its first step by preventing financial support for the ISIL, and this is the expectation of the public opinion in the region and the world. “Amerli and Kobani are two popular regions that resisted against terrorism. The anti-ISIL coalition should have helped these areas but the measures have been slow… and this trend increases our doubts about the anti-ISIL coalition’s objectives.”
      Oct. 22, 2014 to the press
      “The so-called international coalition to fight the ISIL group, which came into existence following a NATO summit in Wales and is [now] taking shape, is shrouded in serious ambiguities, and there are severe misgivings about its determination to sincerely fight the root causes of terrorism.
            “Some of the countries in the coalition are among financial and military supporters of terrorists in Iraq and Syria and some others have reneged on their international duties in the hope of [seeing] their desired political changes in Iraq and Syria.”
            “In the negotiations with the U.S., no issue but the issue of [Iran’s] nuclear energy has been discussed, and the U.S. side has merely talked about its positions regarding the ISIL group.”
            Sept. 11, 2014 according to the press
            “Iraq enjoys the necessary potential and military preparedness to fight against the terrorist and extremist elements. Any move that complicates the situation in Iraq will not be in the interest of Iraq and the region.
            “We believe that the Baghdad government can fully overcome the ongoing crisis in Iraq and thwart conspiracies through consolidation of national unity and internal solidarity.”
            June 14, 2014 to the press
            “Causing insecurity, disrupting democratic trends, overcoming ballot boxes, imposing weapons and terror rather than [promoting] democratic trends, all of these suggest that terrorism is being used today as a tool to overcome people’s votes.
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns the ominous phenomenon of terrorism and believes the first method to counter and eradicate it is for the regional nations to remain vigilant and for countries to boost national unity, and for the international community to pay serious and unbiased attention to this scourge facing humanity.”
            June 25, 2014 according to the press


Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi
            "The very countries that created the Islamic State group are now part of a coalition that...wants to destroy them...How can a contradiction like this be resolved? It's only natural that we cannot trust [the coalition]. We don't want to enter a political game."
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli
             When the Islamic State “attacked Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish officials requested help from Iran. And the Islamic Republic, in addition to providing advisers, organized their forces."
             “One day they brought news that there is a possibility that Karbala and Najaf would fall [cities holy to Shiites]. At that session, the president said that this is our red line and if something like this happens there will be no limit to our operations.”
             We had a timely presence, and there were days we were worried about the fall of pilgrimage cities.
             Aug. 25, 2014 according to the press (translation via Al-Monitor)
            “Supporting the Iraqi government and nation does not mean sending troops to Iraq. It means condemning terrorist acts and closing and safeguarding our joint borders.”
            June 14, 2014 according to Fars News Agency
Center for Strategic Studies head and Rouhani advisor Hesameddin Ashna
            “If the issue is about confronting extremism and violence, then yes, we’re [the United States and Iran] on the same side, but if it’s about destabilizing the region, then, no we are not.
            Iran would not support a U.S. ground intervention but airstrikes could help the “paralyzed” Iraqi air force.
            June 2014, according to The Washington Post
President Rouhani’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs Hamid Aboutalebi
            “The events in Iraq has highlighted a number of hypothesis.
            “First, Iran and America are the only two countries, from a perspective of regional power, that can peacefully end Iraq’s crisis.
            “Second, Iran and America have both ruled out military involvement in Iraq
            “Third, both Iran and America have asked Iraq’s government and Nouri al Maliki to bring the scourge of terrorism and the problems of Iraq to an end.
           “Fourth, the legitimate government of Iraq, in addition to its military capabilities, has potential political solutions worth considering to resolve problems.
            “Fifth, Iran and America have both never disregarded the implicit possibility of cooperation to solve the crisis in Iraq.”
           June 15, 2014 on Twitter according to Al Monitor

First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri

            "I assure you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will powerfully stay beside the great nation of Iraq, and victory will for sure be for that nation."
            "I am confident that the Iraqi nation will overcome its problems and will become triumphant."
            Oct. 21, 2014 according to Fars News
            "In the face of terrorism, we must use all means...Iran is ready to place all of its abilities at Iraq's disposal."
            Nov. 10, 2014 according to the press
Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian
            “The brutal attacks of the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank and the indifference of self-proclaimed advocacy groups and ISIL proved that they are enforcers of the policies dictated by Tel Aviv and apply their power and arms only against Muslims and the strength of the Islamic states.
           July 13, 2014 according to the press
            “Certain countries which are supporting Takfiri terrorists and remnants of [executed Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein] should either correct their attitude or wait for negative consequences of their support.”
         June 30, 2014 in a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov
           “If Iran asks [for help], we will send military equipment to Iraq within the framework of international laws and contracts.”
           June 26, 2014 according to the press
            “We supply Baghdad with necessary consultations but we have no intervention in the country.”
            June 16, 2014 according to Tasnim news agency
            “We will mightily support Iraq in is confrontation with terrorism. We are sure that the Iraqi armed forces will powerfully and effectively crash the terrorist and takfiri forces.”
            June 11, 2014 via state media
            Certain regional and international organizations, including Mossad “launched a forged revolution in Syria, which once started the foreign intelligence organizations immediately began shipping arms to the opposition. We will continue to support Iraq and its nation to counter terrorism, believing that the success of Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, depends on submission of realistic political solutions based on the will of the Syria nation.”
            “Unfortunately, these states are playing with the security of the region and the world by using terrorism.”
            “The US made a mistake in forming the illegal coalition against ISIL because the move expanded the activities of the Takfiri terrorists in the region.”
            Nov. 6, 2014 according to the press
Deputy Commander of Army Ground Forces Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heidari
            “Iranian Army’s Ground Forces are not only closely monitoring the developments in Iraq and the region, but also constantly observe the different threats [coming from around the globe].”
            June 16, 2014 according to Tasnim news agency
Supreme Leader Khamenei’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards Hojjatoleslam Ali Saeedi
            “Saudi Arabia made a lot of efforts to upset the situation in Syria, and Qatar has also made a big investment in this regard, and some other countries made grave mistakes in Syria as well.”
           June 12, 2014 according to Iranian media
Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
            “We do not want to interfere in the internal affairs of countries and we hope we will be a good mediator to extinguish the flames [of the crisis in Iraq].”
            June 22, 2014 in a meeting with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully
Interior Ministry Spokesperson Hossein Ali Amiri

            “There is no particular problem along our common border with Iraq; however, the necessary measures have been taken by the Interior Ministry and border police.”
           June 23, 2014, according to press

Basij Militia Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi
            “The terrorist and anti-Islamic ISIL group is the US’s instrument for sowing discord among Muslims in the region.
            “The US and the Israeli regime seek to use fanatics and anti-Islamic groups to damage the Islamic community.”
            June 23, 2014, according to press

Lt. Commander of Khatam al Anbia Air Defense Base Gen. Shahrokh Shahram
            “Today the takfiri and ISIS forces are killing Muslims in the region on behalf of the US the same way over 30 countries helped Saddam [Hussein] during the imposed war to pave the way for the collapse of the Islamic Republic through waging war against Iran.”
            June 30, 2014 according to Fars News Agency

Tehran’s Provisional Friday Prayer Leader Seyed Ahmad Khatami
           “The US and Israel are supporting the ISIS with the purpose of disintegrating Iraq and create differences among Muslims.”
            June 27, 2014

Parliament's Director General for International Affairs Hossein Sheikholeslami
            “Are we stupid to join the Americans and their coalition? Except for the Iraqis, they are all the same people who over the past three years have been plotting against Syria in over 20 different conferences.”
            September 2014 according to the

            “Supporters of these terrorist groups want to portray Iraq's parliamentary democracy as a failure because they consider this democracy as a factor for their destruction.”
            July 1, 2014 according to the press

Foreign Ministry
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports all steps taken toward the completion of the political process in Iraq. It is obvious that the Islamic Republic of Iran as in the past will continue its support for the Iraqi government and nation in fighting terrorism and promoting the country’s stability and security.”
             Aug.12, 2014 in a statement



President Barack Obama
            “The second thing that we have an interest in is that Iran has influence over Shia, both in Syria and in Iraq, and we do have a shared enemy in ISIL. But I've been very clear publicly and privately we are not connecting in any way the nuclear negotiations from the issue of ISIL. We're not coordinating with Iran on ISIL. There's some de-conflicting in the sense that since they have some troops or militias they control in and around Baghdad, we let them know, don't mess with us, we're not here to mess with you, we're focused on common our enemy but there's no coordination or common battle plan and there will not be because, and this brings me to the third issue, we still have big differences with Iran's behavior vis-à-vis our allies. Then, you know, poking and prodding at-- and-- and creating unrest and sponsoring terrorism in the region, around the world, their anti-Israeli rhetoric and behavior so that's a whole another set of issues which prevents us from ever being true allies…”
             Nov. 9, 2014 in an interview with CBS News
Secretary of State John Kerry
            “The fact is there is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran, whose foreign minister is here with us here today.  ISIL poses a threat to all of us, and we’re committed to working in close partnership with the new Iraqi Government and countries around the world to defeat it.
            Sept. 19, 2014 at U.N. Headquarters in New York
             Just because the Iranians were not invited to the Paris conference “doesn’t mean that we are opposed to the idea of communicating to find out if they will come on board or under what circumstances or whether there is the possibility of a change.”
             Sept. 15, 2014 to reporters
              “I think under the circumstances, at this moment in time, it would not be right for any number of reasons. It would not be appropriate, given the many other issues that are on the table with respect to their engagement in Syria and elsewhere.”
              Sept. 12, 2014 to reporters
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf
             “[T]o be very clear, we are not coordinating with, we do not want to coordinate with, we are not planning to coordinate with Iran in any way on Iraq, period.  So obviously, we’re open to having a discussion with them.  We won’t always outline all of those discussions.  But in terms of the content of what those discussions might look like, we are not coordinating with them.”
             Sept. 16, 2014 at a press briefing

Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, General John Allen
            "No, we haven’t invited Iran into the coalition but we have welcomed Iran’s constructive role in Iraq and, of course, Iran is very attentive in terms of what we are doing and saying in terms of Syria as well. So it is important, once again, to be very clear that we seek a political outcome where there will be many voices that contribute to that political outcome [in Syria]. That political outcome will not include Assad and I don’t want to get into the details of interim governments and all of those measures that are on the table. However we recognize that Iran is a key influence in Iraq, in Syria and in the region. As we continue to move forward we are going to continue to listen very carefully to the things they [Iran] have to say and we will see where that goes."
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press


Ambassador to Tehran Mohammad Majid al Sheikh
            “These are just the rumors of biased and despiteful media which are seeking to sow discord among the regional states, especially Iran and Iraq.
            “Iraq doesn’t need any country neither for weapons nor for the military forces at all; hence, I emphasize that neither General [Qassem] Soleimani nor any other (Iranian) figure is in Iraq.”
            June 24, 2014, according to press

Prime Minister Haider al Abadi
            “Choosing Iran as my first destination after taking office indicates the depth of ties [between Iraq and Iran.”
            “Terrorism is a threat to all regional countries, and we are sure Iran will stand by us.”
            Oct. 21, 2014 according to the press
Interior Minister Mohamed Salem al Ghabban
            “Iran is not only a neighboring country, but also a friendly country and strategic ally for Iraq.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press

Photo credits: President.ir, Khamenei.ir, Iran's Ministry of Defense, Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ali Larijani by Harald Dettenborn [CC-BY-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons,


Khamenei’s Red Lines on Nuclear Talks

            In October and September, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office released three infographics outlining his support for nuclear talks, Iran’s red lines and principles of Iranian diplomacy. The main points closely matched his speech in April marking National Nuclear Technology Day, which is included below.

            On April 9, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei outlined six red lines on nuclear talks in an address to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. The semi-official government website NuclearEnergy.ir pulled out his six points and distributed the graphic below. The following are excerpts from his speech marking National Nuclear Technology Day.  

Address to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
             The purpose of agreeing with these negotiations was to change the atmosphere of hostility that the camp of arrogance [the West] has created against Iran. These negotiations should continue, but everyone should know that despite this, the activities of the Islamic Republic in the area of nuclear research and development will not stop in any way. None of the nuclear achievements of the country can be given up. Besides, the relations of the International Atomic Energy Agency with Iran should be normal and ordinary relations.
       Another plot that global arrogance [the West] has tried very hard to implement against the Islamic Revolution is to influence the major policies of Iran and to shatter the willpower of the political management of the country. But the camp of arrogance has failed to do this until today and by Allah's favor, it will continue to fail in the future.
       The nuclear issue is an example of this, through which they tried to create an environment against the Islamic Republic and to spread lies. Their goal is to preserve the international environment against Iran with this excuse. This was why there was an agreement with the new plan of the administration for the nuclear issue. The purpose of this agreement was to remove the international environment against Iran, to seize the initiative from the other side and to reveal the truth for public opinion in the world. Of course, these negotiations do not mean that the Islamic Republic will compromise its scientific-nuclear movement.
             The nuclear achievements that have been made so far are, in fact, a message to the people of Iran that they can take the paths which lead to the lofty peaks of science and technology. Therefore, this scientific-nuclear movement should not be stopped in any way or slowed down.
             None of the nuclear achievements of the country can be given up. No one has the right to trade these achievements and no one will do this.
             At that time [a few years ago], a formula was devised for producing fuel. But the Americans created obstacles in the way of this process. This was contrary to what they had said to their friends in the regions and to a South American country - and these people believed what the Americans said. The Americans foolishly thought that they had put Iran in dire straits.
             At that time, I said that America does not want to solve this issue. Later on, everyone saw that when a nuclear agreement was in its final stages, the Americans did not allow it to be finalized.At that time, westerners began to ridicule our experts who had announced that they have the capability to produce fuel plates for the Tehran research reactor. But our youth accomplished this feat in less than the arranged time and as a result, the enemies were astonished.
             If some people think that the price of nuclear achievements has been sanctions and pressures, we should remind them that even before the nuclear excuse, sanctions and pressures existed against Iran.
             During the time when there was no nuclear excuse, a western court put Iran on a trial in absentia. Of course, in the present time, they do not have the courage to do this because of the national power of the country. Sanctions and pressures do not exist because of the nuclear issue. Rather, they are opposed to the independent identity - which originates from Islamic faith and belief - and the future prospects of the people of Iran and the Islamic Republic and to their refusal to be bullied by anyone.
             Therefore, if it is said that sanctions and pressures are the price that we have paid for our nuclear achievements, this is not true because even if sanctions did not exist, they would make another excuse, as the Americans bring up the issue of human rights in today's negotiations.
             Even if the issue of human rights is resolved, they will find another excuse. Therefore, the only way is to continue our path of progress with complete power and to stand up against their bullying.
             The negotiators of the country should not give in to any bullying of the other side. Besides, the relations of the International Atomic Energy Agency with Iran should be normal and ordinary relations.

Students Call on Soleimani to Defend Kobane

            On October 9, the Basij Student Organization called on Revolutionary Guards Qods Force Commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani to defend the Syrian town of Kobane from Islamic State militants. The Basij is a volunteer paramilitary organization divided into various branches across Iran. Its student branch warned in a letter to Soleimani that inaction by Iran would result in the slaughter of Kobane’s inhabitants. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was also copied.
             The Islamic State has been trying to take the Kurdish town for three weeks. U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish fighters on the ground have slowed the Islamic State’s advance, but its fighters reportedly penetrated part of the town as of October 6. The following is a translation of the student organization’s letter published by Fars News Agency.  

Dear Commander of the Qods Force,

Greetings and respect;

As you are aware, the long-oppressed people of Kobane are surrounded by Daesh [Islamic State] forces. The latest news is that half of the Kurdish city has been captured by these barbarians and criminals. If the diplomatic apparatus and Iranian military are silent and inactive on this issue, the complete capture of the city and the killing of its people are possible. Please take advantage of and use all the capabilities of the foreign ministry and the Qods Force to prevent this crime. We ask God for enduring success in serving the world’s oppressed people.


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