'Iran will work with US against ISIS only after nuclear crisis resolved’
RT:What are the strategic errors President Hassan Rouhani was talking about?
Kaveh Afrasiabi: Obviously he was referring to the erroneous past policy of the US and the other western nations of supporting some of the opposition groups against the Syrian government that are [responsible] for terrorist atrocities. It is first and foremost, as well as, of course, above all the ISIS terrorists, who are wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria today. And we have plenty of evidence of past support by some of the pro-US Arab states in the region for these terrorist groups. Now President Rouhani is calling these states to task, to reconsider their past mistakes and to enter in a new coalition of what he termed a “coalition of enduring peace” as an alternative to the US-led “coalition of anti-terrorism.” And really the thing is that President Rouhani did a terrific job of articulating Iran’s position as a leading regional power that is not like other puppet states that follow the US sheepishly. President Rouhani also indicated that Iran is willing to cooperate with the US and other powers, but the nuclear crisis must be resolved first.
RT:President Rouhani also said terrorism should be tackled within the region, not outside. Is he implying that America shouldn't interfere?
KA: Absolutely, and both President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Khamenei have criticized the US action in Syria without the explicit approval of the UN Security Council, as well as the Syrian government. I think there are serious questions with respect to the real motives of the US government in this new face of anti-terrorism, that [brings back] unhappy memories of the Bush administration. And we saw President Obama sermonizing the Muslim world yesterday and invoking the image of his predecessor, which is a very unhappy development.
RT:Is it possible to tackle terrorism within the region? Are Iran’s neighbors able to do it without outside help?
KA: Iran’s neighbors are powerful enough to tackle all these problems. The US president has invoked the terminology of cancer but it is probably more like head lice – it is very irritating and so forth. But if these regional states pool their resources to get there, I am pretty confident that they can tackle the problem.
RT:There are now a growing number of Western citizens traveling to Syria to join ISIS. Why is this happening?
KA: There is a great deal of anti-Muslim discrimination in western countries. We have seen the expression of discontent in the street rallies in Paris and so on, with respect to the recent Gaza war, and the Israeli atrocities. And the pro-Israeli policies of these western governments are also another root cause for the dissatisfaction of some of the Muslim youth, in particular those residing in various western states. So I think that is an interconnected issue that needs to be tackled in terms of rampant Islamophobia and all these ugly manifestations in the Western countries that feel this kind of radicalism and jihadism on the part of some dissatisfied Muslim youth.
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