MESOP : DOES TEHRAN GAVE SHELTER TO AL QAEDA / ISIS FOUNDERS ?
The Daily Beast last week detailed Iranian offers to Baghdad of among other things its army and spies in an effort to curb the advance of ISIS across the country. Sheikh’s comments sit uneasily alongside a Monday report from the Washington Free Beacon that Tehran provided shelter and protection to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who founded al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor to ISIS.
Iraq’s ambassador to Iran Mohammad Madjid al-Sheikh on Tuesday told reporters that Tehran has “played an important role in supporting Iraq politically” but that Baghdad has not asked the Islamic republic for assistance in combating extremist Sunni fighters. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has made steady gains across Iraq in recent weeks, threatening the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Meanwhile, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday blasted “the intervention of the U.S. and others” as an infringement on Iraqi sovereignty. The Free Beacon noted that reports of “Iran arming Iraqi insurgents and attempting to destabilize the government emerged in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.”