Reading Christiane Amanpour’s interview with an “unnamed Iranian official”, in which he talks about the U.S. and Iran being “natural allies”, it was hard to resist the lure of his message:
“We are natural allies. Why?” he said. “Because now the major threat for both Iran and the U.S.A. is al Qaeda.”
He said al Qaeda had attacked the “symbol of our faith” when it struck the Golden Dome mosque — the Al-Askariya Mosque — in the Iraqi city of Samarra last February, setting off much of the sectarian violence that has plagued the war-torn nation over the last year. Similarly, he said, al Qaeda struck the “symbols of American power” on 9/11.
“Why is the U.S. forcing us to enter a struggle with them that is only in al Qaeda’s interest?” he said.
In terms of al Qaeda, he’s right; we do have a mutual enemy. Furthermore, Iran worked with us (even if it was a step removed) in Afghanistan, when the target was the Taleban. Is it possible that this official is, in fact, speaking the mind of the Ayatollah?
And what if he is?
Just at the moment, I’d say that the Bush administration is far less concerned about al Qaeda than about Iraq, and a comment by Shaun Mullen (on his own post at TMV) highlights the utterly impossible, irreconcileable position we’ve landed in:
The U.S. ignited the fire that became the civil war and then has kept throwing gasoline on it. It is now in a position where it has to take sides. That would be taking sides with the Shiites even though its biggest friends in the region — Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — are run by Sunnis. What a mess!
And that’s just talking about internal sides within Iraqi politics.
Oddly enough (and everybody will no doubt pile right onto Polimom for this), I suspect this Iranian official is right; there are a number of points from which a U.S. – Iranian alliance could be built, and al Qaeda isn’t the only one. Even the long-standing grievance between us that culminated in the 1979 hostage crisis and the problematic persuit of nuclear weapons could probably be worked out (imho).
If only those were the only problems.
Just for grins and giggles, let’s say that the U.S. is willing to ally with Iran to manage the incendiary Iraq situation and face down al Qaeda. Where, then, would that leave us with our regional allies… who are (inconveniently for this scenario) Sunni?
And there is that other massive hurdle — Iran’s deranged and wholly unacceptable stated desire to “wipe out” Israel.
No — I’m afraid that it’s the tangled web of friends who are enemies of enemies who are friends that will prevent the U.S. and Iran from avoiding the disastrous collision everyone sees coming. It’s a lethal Gordian knot, and I don’t think there’s any way to cut it.
When the enemy of my enemy is also my friend, we’re all caught.
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