The Washington Post

Iran’s leader says Tehran and Washington not aligned on Iraq

An Iraqi boy living in Iran holds a toy gun and flashes a victory sign in front of a poster of the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a demonstration against Sunni militants. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made remarks Sunday that lessened any remaining possibility of military cooperation between the Islamic republic and the United States in securing Iraq against an onslaught from al-Qaeda-inspired militants.

“We don’t support any foreign interference in Iraq and we’re strongly opposed to U.S. interference there,” Khamenei said at an event with members of Iran’s judiciary, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

While officials in Washington and Tehran had earlier signaled a willingness to work together to rid the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the comments from Khamenei show a growing divide between the interests of the long-opposed governments.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last Saturday that once he knows what the U.S.’s plans are for intervening, his government would “think about cooperation with them in Iraq.”

Last week in Vienna, U.S. and Iranian negotiators discussed Iraq briefly on the sidelines of the most recent round of talks between world powers and Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions, but up until that point both sides said there were no plans to coordinate directly on Iraq.

While some Iranian officials quietly welcomed the possibility of U.S. airstrikes, as Washington’s patience for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki diminishes, so do the prospects of coordinated efforts as Tehran sees Maliki as a reliable partner in Baghdad.

“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,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei also rejected the idea that violence engulfing Iraq is part of a sectarian war and blamed the United States and other foreign powers for what he called their roles in allowing extremist groups to flourish in the Middle East.

“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,” he said. “The real fight is between those who want to bring back a U.S. presence and those who want Iraqi independence.”

Jason Rezaian has been The Post’s correspondent in Tehran since 2012. He was previously a freelance writer based in Tehran.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
Play Videos
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
What you need to know about filming the police
Play Videos
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
The signature drink of New Orleans

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.