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.”
“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."
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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."
"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.”
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 press
“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
“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.”
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,