IHS Jane’s 360 defence weekly reported that Iran was the first country to begin attacks on the Islamic State (IS) at the start of the year. This week Jane’s broke the news that Iran’s airforce is bombing the IS, (Phantom & screenshot below) news that has been confirmed by a US spokesperson this week.
Adversity makes for strange bedfellows or the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Perhaps originally from Sanskrit but often also attributed to Arabian sources this describes well the new and only partially comfortable relationship between ‘The West’ (principally the USA) and Iran.
This week saw the expiry of nuclear talks in Vienna which drove the most recent UN sanction process. Despite an agreement to disagree there was no strong rhetoric from the US but instead a palatable eagerness to extend discussions for a further six months whilst a compromise position could be sought. Meanwhile it has been reported separately that Boeing has inked a small but significant deal to supply parts to Iran Air. There have also been reports that Peugeot has restarted manufacturing at its plant in Tehran. Clear signs of a political thaw.
So perhaps unexpectedly, the country that Saudi Arabia and UAE arguably hate the most, has turned out to be maybe the USA’s most influential regional partner. Iran’s role in forming policy and strategy at the highest levels in the regimes in both Iraq and Syria is fundamental and cannot be understated. Suddenly Rouhani is an uncomfortable but acceptable guest at the democratic dinner table. Or at least, far more preferable than some of the bloody alternatives of IS, Taliban or Al Qaida.
For further details the full Huffington post article makes great background reading.