September 26th, 2014
12:06 AM ET

The fight against ISIS must include Iran

By Fareed Zakaria

The United States has some influence with the Iraqi government, but Iran has far more. The Shiite religious parties that today run the country have been funded by Iran for decades. Their leaders lived in Tehran and Damascus during their long exiles from Saddam Hussein’s regime. When Washington sought to remove the previous prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, Iran provided the push that made it happen. If the goal is to get the Iraqi government to share more power with the Sunnis, Iran’s help would be invaluable, perhaps vital.

In Syria, Washington’s strategy is incoherent. It seeks to destroy the Islamic State there and attack Jabhat al-Nusra and the Khorasan group but somehow not strengthen these groups’ principal rival, the Bashar al-Assad regime. This is impossible. As these terrorist groups lose ground, the army that will most easily take advantage will be that of the Syrian regime, not the disorganized and weak Free Syrian Army. If there is some way to make this strategy less contradictory, it would be to work toward some power-sharing deal in Syria that includes elements of the Assad government — such as generals and intelligence heads. But Washington has no contact or credibility with anyone in the Assad regime. The government that does is in Tehran.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. George Patton

    But we Americans loathe Iran. They cannot be trusted.

    September 26, 2014 at 5:17 am |
    • Buck Ofama

      I totally agree. George. We must fight our enemies to our fullest!!!!!!!!!

      September 26, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
    • Chapman Darwin

      You mean 'you r@ping' hindoos from India. Your BO makes throw up, Literally.

      September 28, 2014 at 8:08 am |
  2. Joseph McCarthy

    George, you nailed it! Let me add that ever since they lost the Shah, it's been down hill since then. Iran will never become modernized and will always live in the dark ages.

    September 26, 2014 at 5:20 am |
    • Babak

      Dark ages?! It is OBVIOUS you have never been to Iran lately. There is not even a pimple on their road systems that goes to EVERY village. You must not have seen the modern CLEAN metropolis of Tehran. You are a Zionist Jew troll.

      September 26, 2014 at 9:11 am |
      • Charlie

        The pimple now lives in the US?

        September 26, 2014 at 11:10 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Just ignore him, Babak. He's only my troll. He does this to all of us here in order to get a rise!

        September 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
      • Mike

        All building left over from Shah. The Aytolah could not build even North high way!!!

        September 26, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
  3. rupert

    George, Joseph, good posts, thank you. I'll tell you what gets my goat, Iran is the destablizer of that region. They have been for years. Ever since the Bush administration in their infinite wisdom got rid of Saddam, no one there has been able to keep Iran in check. So now because of ISIS we're suppose to be their pals and fight side by side?
    No, I don't think so. Both are our enemies.

    September 26, 2014 at 5:30 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Pray for your enemies.

      September 26, 2014 at 5:36 am |
    • rupert

      Yes joey, but of course. I will pray for our enemies as much as isis, iran, al Qaeda and other fake muslims pray for us.
      BTW, I respect and like true peaceful muslims.

      September 26, 2014 at 8:44 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        @ rupert, I know many Muslims which are devout and very honorable human beings.
        I advocate fine bombs for the Islamic State, sent with prayers.

        September 26, 2014 at 9:43 am |
    • Babak

      Another leech Zionist Jew troll!

      September 26, 2014 at 9:12 am |
      • rupert

        I'm the real rupert here and I never made those idiotic posts above, Babak. That's only some Tea Partying jerk trying to make a fool out of me.

        September 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
      • Mike

        All people against corrupted religious fascist Iran regime are zionist?!

        September 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
    • Mike

      I confirm it. The head of snake is in Tehran.

      September 26, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
  4. Thomas

    I couldn't agree more rupert. I appreciate your insight. Please keep up the good work.
    Great posts, buddy.

    September 26, 2014 at 5:34 am |
  5. rupert

    Dear God, Allah, Budda, Jesus, and the rest of u in heaven. I pray that you give all terrrrrorists Ebola.

    September 26, 2014 at 8:56 am |
    • rupert

      If you have to post under my name, please leave religion out of it. If you're a devout Atheist then post under a different screen name, please.

      September 26, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
  6. Babak

    Americas biggest enemy are the Jews and most all Americans know this. You could smell the trolls from Israel and Jew York on this board.

    September 26, 2014 at 9:13 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ Babak:
      I feel your pain.

      September 26, 2014 at 9:51 am |
    • Charlie

      No agenda there, nuh uh, no way.

      September 26, 2014 at 10:18 am |
    • Brad Dorset

      Lol. Jew York. Now that is funny!

      September 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • Chapman Darwin

      A catholic nun has been r@ped in Orissa state in India.

      The nun was r@ped by a Hindu mob in Kandhamal district after riots between Hindus and Christians there.

      The Catholic nun, working with the Divyajyoti Pastoral Centre at Kanjemandi village, alleged that she was dragged out of a Hindu man's house where she had taken shelter along with a 55-year-old priest, Father Thomas Chellantharayil.

      She was taken to an abandoned house where she was r@ped by a mob on. She was also paraded naked through the streets.

      September 28, 2014 at 8:24 am |
  7. Bob

    It is a mistake to include the Power Seeking Iranian government leaders in anything, until they relinquish all activities related to growing their military might. You are wrong, sir.

    September 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Why China stays out of Islamic State fight , " IRAN " = oil = $$$$$$$$$$$$

    Same with Africa and Ebola , it's all about the YUAN !

    September 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • Ferhat Balkan

      That is why China wins the economic war. Our leaders in Washington are too trigger happy and too eager to spend our taxpayer money on needless wars. At one point, they were so desperate that they tried to convince the American public ISIS was coming across the border from Mexico. War mongering is their game and they always win in order to feed the weapon manufacturers and cause mass hysteria. Billionaires are behind all of it. They buy our politicians during the elections by "contributions" in order to control political decisions. That is the level of corruption ruling our government in Washington today.

      September 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
  9. Joseph McCarthy

    I see that our stalker's really at it here on this post. I wish that CNN would do something to control this psychopath who has nothing better to do than steal other peoples' to vomit out his senseless rants on this website but I don't think so. We'll just have to live with it!

    September 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
  10. chri§§y

    Agree @ Ferhat...just like theyve done all those years after 9/11 with their level orange, red alert to ensure we keep pumping tons of money into Homeland Security and NSA. Although NSA has been a total waste of funding since it has yet to thwart an attack on US citizens! Had it been affective 9/11 wouldnt have occured! Nor the Boston Marathon Masacre either!

    September 26, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
    • George patton

      Well put, chrissy. By the way, I'm the true George patton here. Please ignore my impostor.

      September 26, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
  11. George patton

    Sorry folks. I didn't post the above silly comments. Please ignore my troll.

    September 26, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  12. j. von hettlingen

    John Kerry said last week: "There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran." It makes sense that the fight against ISIS "must include Iran". The problem is hubris and distrust!
    Both the US and Iran find it difficult to tell their people that they aim to abandon their decades old hostility and cooperate on various issues. What makes it more difficult for the two to really deepen their cooperation is distrust and national pride. Iran insists on its right to enriching uranium for peaceful purposes. The US and its allies – Israel and Saudi Arabia in particular – demand that Iran give up its nuclear programme. They don't trust Iran and fear it might seek to make bomb material in secret unbeknownst to IAEA.
    It's true what Fareed Zakaria said that Iran could use its clout to persuade the Shia-led government in Iraq and the Alawite regime under Assad to get their act together. For this reason the US is wary of a cooperation with Tehran, fearing Iran might use it for leverage in the nuclear negotiations. Earlier this week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had personally rejected initiatives from the US for cooperation in fighting ISIS. Indeed the Shia militias in Iraq and – no doubt – Iran's Quds forces believe they could defeat ISIS without the Western coalition. A victory would only help them establish hegemony in the region. Yet the leadership in Teheran knows that its Shia-led forces would not be able to eradicate ISIS and it would need help from the West, without admitting it.

    September 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
    • Mike

      Both the Shia militias in Iraq and Iran and Sunni ISIS or Taliban have the same radical ideology that beheading the opposition and both belong to the dark side of history.
      This ideology must be isolated and replaced by the moderate ideology belong to the century 21.

      September 27, 2014 at 10:15 am |
    • Chapman Darwin

      The communist Soviets and their buddies India Hinddoos attacked and invaded Afghanistan and killed millions of people and millions were made homeless and refugees. Families devastated.

      The whole country was destroyed. Mosques were bulldozed and Afghan women r@ped.

      After fierce fighting, Americans helped the Afghanis liberate their country and defeated Communist Soviets and their allies India. US provided military equipment support to defeat these communists.

      These same hinddoos are now raping Afghanistan again and stripping the country of its natural resources and minerals. Forests have been stripped and mined millions of acres of them. No compensation has been paid.

      Moreover, them hinddoos are now smuggling drugs processed from poppy cultivation in Afghanistan to Europe and USA and making young kids in these countries drug addicts.

      September 28, 2014 at 8:17 am |
  13. Mike

    Iran islamic regime is head of snake.
    They gave terrorist rocket like Hamas to make tension in the region.
    They think creating tension help them to make peaceful!! Nuclear bomb faster and occupy the Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain and Yemen...

    September 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
  14. Mike

    Please expand air strike to kick off criminal AlAssad from power and also kick away his supporters included Lebanon terrorist jehadi Shia Hezbollah groups that killed many innocent Sunni Syrian

    September 26, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
  15. Mike

    Iran mullah regime with supporting of Shia dictator Alassad and Malki in Syria and Iraq to kill Sunni people caused to create ISIS.
    The best solution is kick off of Alasssad from the power, then Syrian people beat all the Shia and Sunni terrorist groups like Hezbollah and ISIS..

    September 26, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
    • Buck Ofama

      Thank you, Mike. How right you are! Don't worry, Barack Obama will clean their clocks, he will, he will!

      September 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
  16. Mike

    Mr. Zakria, your article and solution is totally wrong.
    The Iran islamic regime control Iran under the islamic law like SIS.
    They force women to put the head cover and jail and torching or even executing the iranian people for listening to the music or putting a comment in the website or reading a forbidden book or even showing happiness! ,
    The clips from inside Raqqa by the hidden camera looks like inside iran.
    The region must be cleaned up from all the radical islamic ideology supporters including Iran Shia regime and Islamic sunni ISIS.

    September 26, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
    • Chapman Darwin

      It is time to stand up Modi of India and send him to The Hague to face trial of murders and genocides in Gujarat et al, India ..... committed against the minorities.

      We shall never forget.

      Khmer Rouge reminds one of BJP in India. Pol Pot of Modi. Both mass murderers.

      September 28, 2014 at 8:15 am |
      • Sudham

        Modi will own Pakistan and the ISIS and you religious facist.

        October 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
  17. chri§§y

    Mike, mike, mike...some might say the same of the male species and we all know that simply isnt true. Just as we know tis wrong to blame a whole race or religion for the actions of a few!

    September 27, 2014 at 9:14 am |
  18. Mike

    Give the mullah Iran regime peaceful nuclear bomb + control of region!! then who can stop them?!!!!

    September 27, 2014 at 9:58 am |
  19. Joseph McCarthy

    I wore short tight denim shorts. Does that make me gay?

    September 27, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
    • Buck Ofama

      Yes, it does, Joseph or whoever you are. The real Joseph here makes me sick with his criticism of thePOTUS and all these wars we're in!

      September 27, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
  20. Chapman Darwin

    What baffles me is that thousands of people were killed, maimed and burnt alive by hindoos in Gujarat, India but nobody heard their cries. Nobody heard their screams. Nobody saw their plight. Nobody smelled their burning bodies. NOBODY!!!

    What further baffles me is that millions of people have been and continue to be slaughtered in Indian Occupied Kashmir. A lot of them have been buried alive and r@ped. Human rights outfits have provided coordinates of these unmarked graves to the Indian Government. How strange their compasses ceased functioning!!!

    September 28, 2014 at 8:09 am |
    • Sudham

      Don't spew your nonsense here. The indian army maintains peace in the J & K valley. They saved tens of thousands of lives during the floods recently. We don't need your fantasies. Your arguments should be factual.

      October 30, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
  21. ge

    the middle east will bankrupt America-mission accomplished

    September 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
  22. David Johnson

    Every thing has a history.

    What the U.S. Wants is clear, it wants a peaceful Middle East.
    A middle East that it does not threaten it and other nations.
    A middle East that it can do business with.
    Blame yourself for a change, do not blame every thing on the U.S.
    Just because the Middle East is a 'Hell hole' of intolerance conflicting ideologies.

    The problem with the Middle East, is embedded intolerance and built in
    disrespect for the lives of other people. Coming from a tradition of
    murdering your neighbor for the slightest intellectual disagreement
    none of this feuding is surprising, I suppose, but still alarming.

    People cloaked in religion using the name God to server their own
    selfish and often beastly purposes, is much of the problem. And that
    the extremist get so little intellectual opposition allows them to flourish
    that also is part of the problem.

    The problems are local, hatred and distrust, and a willingness to crush your
    opponent at any cost. A willingness to ignore other people's basic rights.

    Maybe it is the water or something like that, that creates an environment
    of 'baboon tribalism', well what ever the cause, the U.S. would love to
    never send another military resource there ever again.

    Why is Turkey even part of NATO? Turkey is not the same Turkey
    it used to be in the days of the 'cold war'. Turkey has been drifting
    away from secularism towards Islamism fro some years now.

    When 'push came to shove' and the U.S. needed to use Turkish
    highways to transport U.S. Military during the Iraq war, Turkey
    denied the U.S. permission. Thus indirectly costing the U.S. Military
    both lives and millions of extra dollars.

    Turkey apparently is more concerned about Kurdish independence than
    the “Daesh Death Brigade” in Iraq and Syria. Erdoğan apparently feels
    some resonance with these types. If not- why so reticent to
    interdict them?

    Turkey has no business being in NATO, as well as the E.U.
    Since it clearly is moving in the direction of a religious state.
    Erdoğan's dream is to become a Sunni version of Iran.
    Ayatollah Erdoğan his secret fantasy.

    But back to the point about baboons with guns. It is not enough to
    provide streets and public services to your people, you have to
    devote most of your time to defend yourself from crazy blood thirsty
    neighbors bend on killing you and your families, because why?
    OH, yes they have a different tradition of worship!
    BABOONS! It is embarrassing.

    What does Iran want to accomplish? To crush everyone else in the
    region under an iron fist? The same question for Saudi Arabia
    What do you really want? To see the Shiites all destroyed?

    Are the words 'common sense and pragmatism' not defined in your
    languages, maybe that is the problem. All sides have 'bad people'
    that influence events towards negative outcomes– those are the people
    the remainder of 'good people' are suppose to stop.

    Religion instead of being the solution has become an excuse to
    deprive others of their human rights.

    Once again for the slow witted amongst you.

    1. Declare and Create a Sunni State … Sunnistan that will
    be the third rung of Iraq.(like Kurdistan and Shiastan-Iraq.)
    Token offerings from a timid Iraq legislature will not
    2. Freeze the existing fronts, Syria gets want it currently has
    and Sunnistan Iraq gets the rest.

    3. Provide a U.N. Resolution to allow Russia and Iran to
    defend Syrian proper, subject to al-Assad leaving.
    And mandate that NATO via Turkey use it's forces
    to end the 'Daesh Death Brigade'

    If Turkey cannot fulfill it's duties then Egypt will
    have to provide and should in any event provide
    help ending this scourge on humanity.
    It has to be a 'Sunni' operation on the ground
    in order for it to have a good outcome.

    Or we can just muddle along in the way we are now doing and
    let millions suffer for many years to follow. Our Choice!

    David Wesley Johnson

    Not only do terrorists subvert our freedoms against us, they
    use our language as well, by calling themselves heroic sounding
    names and phrases they use the media to inspire and recruit.
    And the media itself is complicit in romanticizing terrorist's
    goals by using the names they provide. I think the French
    are on to something. Call these “A**-holes' what they are
    and not what they want us to call them.
    “Daesh “

    September 28, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  23. Mike

    Fareed Zakaria did an interview with Rouhani.
    Rouhani claimed that we are against terrorists!!!
    it looks like a joke!!
    He explain that Syria rebels that fight against the criminal Assad and ISIS are one of those terrorists!!!
    Rouhani is new version of liar Ahmadinejad and another puppet from supreme leader of Iran islamic regime that act the same as ISIS. They support all the terrorists in the region to make tension and could finish their nuclear bomb project.

    September 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
  24. Kevin

    Why is Fareed Zakaria still allowed to blog for CNN despite all those plagiarism proofs? Where did he steal this article from? Is he even competent?

    Proofs that Fareed Zakaria is a fake:

    September 29, 2014 at 1:40 am |

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