If anything could repair the strained relationship between Iran and the U.S., one would think a warmongering group of Islamic extremists that even Al Qaeda doesn’t want to be associated with would do the trick. Apparently not.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ruled out any cooperation with the U.S. on combating ISIS in an interview Monday after he was released from undergoing prostate surgery.
Khamenei told reporters he had opposed requests by the U.S. to coordinate in fighting ISIS, saying “We will not cooperate with the Americans, because their hands are polluted."
His official Twitter account reiterated his opposition to aiding the U.S, adding that ISIS is a creation of U.S. interventionism in the Middle East. That, and the U.S. wants to turn Iraq, Syria and Pakistan into a region where it can do whatever it wants without consequence.
While the supreme leader’s opposition to anything U.S. is pretty normal for him, it’s notable that he mentioned requests by the U.S. to cooperate against ISIS.
That’s because as recently as Monday, the U.S. has itself opposed working with Iran to fight the group.
MARIE HARF VIA WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: “But to be very clear, we are not coordinating with, we do not want to coordinate with, we are not planning to coordinate with Iran in any way on Iraq, period.”
And that echoes a similar statement made by Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday while visiting Saudi Arabia.
SECRETARY JOHN KERRY VIA THE TELEGRAPH: “No one has called me and asked me with respect to the presence of Iran. But I think under the circumstances at this moment in time, it would not be right for any number of reasons.”
So, both Tehran and Washington deny talking to eachother. But both do have the same objective: to defeat ISIS.
Something which was clear in the liberation of the Iraqi city Amirli from an ISIS-led siege. The U.S. bombed ISIS targets from the air, and pro-Iranian Shia militias attacked from the ground. (Video via YouTube / ershad alijani)
A senior Iranian official assured Al-Monitor that doesn't mean the two nations were working together, saying, “The Americans helped the Iraqis gain control over the town; we helped also where possible with arms and advice, but this doesn’t mean we are fighting together — that’s a different issue entirely.”
A writer for The Washington Post suggests while there could be some talks going on between the U.S. and Iran behind the scenes and Khamenei’s statement is just for show, that's pretty unlikely.
Both nations may get the chance to speak again later this week when talks over Iran’s nuclear program are set to be held in New York.
This video contains images from Getty Images and the U.S. Department of State.