Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has called for Iran to be included in the strategic talks between the US and its allies on how to confront Islamic State.
The international conference is getting underway in Paris today, following Islamic State’s latest battlefield gains, including the capture of the Iraqi city of Ramadi last month.
“It throws into quite stark relief what’s missing, and that’s dialogue with Iran,” Ms Bishop told The Australian newspaper.
As she set out for the high-level gathering, Julie Bishop called for Iran to be given a place at the table.
She argues that since the former international pariah has been doing much of the fighting against IS, Western nations like the United States and Britain need to put aside their wariness of their old foe and allow Iran to have a say in how the international campaign is being waged.
“The Iranians are doing much of the fighting but we are not hearing from them as to what their objectives are,” Ms Bishop said.
“Iran is not included in the coalition’s discussions. We must have one of their military commanders and political leaders at the table informing us of what Iran is doing there.”
The Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani reiterated Iran’s support for the regime of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad at a joint media conference with his Syrian counterpart, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham.
“Fighting terrorism in both Syria and Iraq is a combat that can be useful for the future of humanity,” Mr Larijani said.
Certainly Islamic State’s effectiveness on the battlefield and its ability to constantly adapt from conventional battlefield fighting to guerilla and insurgent tactics as need dictates is forcing Iraq’s Western allies to reassess their own approach.
This week IS extremists have deployed captured military equipment with deadly effect against Iraqi government forces.
In the latest attack, a suicide bomber drove a tank laden with explosives into a security base near Samarra in north-central Iraq.
The blast killed at least 34 Iraqi police officers and injuring dozens more.
It came less than a day after three other suicide bombers targeted a police base in Anbar province using captured US-supplied Humvees to kill 41 police and Shiite militiamen.
Coalition criticised for failing to re-arm Iraq
Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi said this week that 2,300 Humvees were captured by IS when the jihadi group overran the northern city of Mosul in June last year.
He criticized the US-led coalition for failing to re-arm the country.
“The flow of terrorists coming to Iraq never stopped and the number never went down even for a fraction. This is a very dangerous phenomenon because it clearly shows that all the efforts by the international community to stop the terrorists from coming to Iraq have failed, not to mention that until now ISIL is still able to sell oil and use its revenues to finance its criminal enterprise and terrorist operations,” prime minister al-Abadi said.
But in the wake of the latest battlefield set-backs for Iraqi government forces, there is wariness about sending more weapons to Iraq from those at the sidelines of the Paris talks.
French journalist Nicolas Henin was a hostage of the extremists.
“This conference is based on a myth, on a dream that there is still an Iraqi army. No – there is nothing like an Iraqi army.
“Basically we are supporting an army that is not reliable and we are giving them weapons that they will eventually hand over to ISIL (Islamic State),” Mr Henin told Al Jazeera.
“This is totally stupid.”
Observers hold out slim hopes of the Paris talks providing a breakthrough in the fight against IS.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius ruled out French “boots on the ground”, stressing the Iraqi’s must be persuaded to confront IS themselves.
“The situation in Iraq isn’t easy, so we’ll need to talk about both the military and political situation – they’re linked.
“If we want to bring about the military withdrawal of Daesh (Islamic State), the entire Iraqi population needs to be involved,” he said.
“The Iraqi people themselves will only be willing to take up the fight against Daesh if Iraq’s government becomes more inclusive.”