'Iran-US relations: Little room for improvement'

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. © Raheb Homavandi
While the US and its allies are supporting, directly or indirectly, terrorist groups, there is little room for improvement in relations between Iran and the US, says Seyed Mohammad Marandi, professor at the University of Tehran.

Russian naval strikes caused some concern in the West, which is conducting its own anti-ISIL air campaign in Syria. However, Iran's foreign minister put their actions into doubt, actually saying that the US-led coalition is just for show.

READ MORE: Proof please? CNN claims Russian missiles crashed in Iran, Moscow refutes, US can’t confirm 

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine on October, 6 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The problem with the international coalition was that it was never serious, because it had political inhibitions against hitting Daesh [ISIS], because they believe that hitting Daesh [ISIS] before they have a solution for Bashar al-Assad would help Bashar.”

RT: Are you surprised by the announcement? Relations between Iran and the US seemed to have reached a new level, after the landmark nuclear agreement...

Seyed Marandi: No, not really. I think that Iranian-US relations are continuing to meet the same difficulties as before. The US, regardless of the fact that it continues to demonize Iran, continues to say: “All options are on the table.” And US leaders speak about change in the country, but in addition the US continues to have a very notorious policy in this part of the world. The Iranians believe that the US continues to indirectly support Al-Qaeda in Syria. It is the groups that the US is funding are working with Al-Nusra Front which is Al-Qaeda and Jund al-Sham. Also, US allies are funding Al-Qaeda directly - the Saudis as well as the Turks and the Israeli regime. The Iranians say with confidence that the Turkish government continues to support ISIS. And in Yemen we see the Saudis working with Al-Qaeda as well. So, under the circumstances where the Americans and their allies are directly and indirectly supporting the most dangerous and inhumane terrorist groups in the world, there really is little room for improvement in relations between Iran and the US.

A Russian Sukhoi Su-25 takes off from the Hmeimim air base in Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov

RT: Is there any truth in what Iran's foreign minister said or is it just political posturing? What is America's priority - defeating ISIL or making sure Assad steps down?

SM: The Iranians don’t feel that the Americans have ever been sincere over ISIS. Otherwise, the US would be outraged at the Turkish president’s support for the organization and the support given by other regimes to Al-Qaeda in Syria as well as Yemen. The US has been really trying to manage the situation. Right now we see that despite the fact that the Russians have just entered the combat - the air campaign against the extremists - they have had a much greater impact than the US has had for over a year now. So, this is evidence in itself that the Americans are not serious and they basically want to contain ISIS rather than destroy it. The US, as soon as the Russians began bombing, spoke about civilian casualties. And the Americans bombed hospital in Afghanistan and they seem to have no problem, either the Americans or NATO, when the Saudis bombed weddings in Yemen. That obviously is not a major problem for these countries. So, it is obvious that the Americans are not serious - when their allies bomb civilian targets, it is not a problem and when the Russian bomb the extremists, it is somehow a very dangerous escalation.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.