Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei yesterday launched a scathing attack on Britain and other Western powers, accusing them of creating ISIS and Al-Qaeda as part of a plan to sow division in the Muslim world.
In his first speech since undergoing prostate surgery last month, Khamenei said at a gathering marking a Shi’ite holiday, “America, Zionism, and especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions – the wicked government of Britain – have sharply increased their efforts of creating divisions between the Sunnis and Shi’ites.” He explained, “They created Al Qaeda and ISIS in order to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic, but today, they have turned on them.”
Britain is participating in the US-led air campaign against ISIS, which has made significant military gains in Iraq and Syria, shocking international leaders with its brutality. Khamenei’s comments contrast starkly with speculation that Iran could also lend support to the international effort against the Sunni extremists of ISIS. The comments will also come as a blow to hopes that Iran’s Supreme Leader had softened his stance towards the West and in particular Britain, especially as Britain and Iran had agreed in June to re-establish bilateral diplomatic relations.
Khamenei’s quotes also appear to contrast with the comments made yesterday by Iran’s President Rouhani, who told Iranian television that “a nuclear agreement in certain.” The most recent round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) showed little sign that a long-term agreement on Iranian nuclear development would be reached by the agreed 24 November deadline. Iran’s Foreign Minister is scheduled to meet with P5+1 delegation head Catherine Ashton and US Secretary of State John Kerry this week.
Rouhani said optimistically, “We have reached consensus on generalities and there are only the fine details to be worked out.” He added, “I think a final settlement can be achieved in these remaining 40 days,” before the deadline for an agreement expires.