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Interview of Alireza Jafarzadeh, with Trish Regan of Bloomberg TV

Interview of Alireza Jafarzadeh, author of The Iran Threat, with Trish Regan of Bloomberg TV

September 11 2014

Trish Regan: First, I would like your reaction to the president’s plan for fighting Islamic State. What did you think about his address last night?

Alireza Jafarzadeh: I think, Trish, the president’s speech was very solid, very firm, and very decisive; He defined the objective very clearly.  What needs to be done is how to turn that into a success.

Some of the elements that the president highlighted is that he emphasized on the need, that in addition to the military actions that the United States is going to engaged in, to rely on the Iraqi people, because at the end of the day, it is the Iraqi people who will have to make the difference.

He also talked about a coalition, who are the international partners of the United States who are going to help with that?

In order to better understand how to help with the Iraqi people, we have to look at how we got to this problem.

The current situation in Iraq is a byproduct of Maliki’s sectarian policies over the years, particularly in the past four years, with the full backing of the Iranian regime, who fed Maliki with training and weapons and ran their Shiite militia operations that basically suppressed the Sunni population, especially the tribes, eliminating them from the political process, creating a situation that left no options for the Sunnis but to stand up. Of course, that created a vacuum where ISIS jumped in.

So in order to reverse that, in addition to targeting ISIS, you need to strengthen the more moderate voices of the Sunnis, you need to separate the ISIS from the Sunnis.

Trish Regan: Yes, understandably. That’s something the president has talked about doing. He really wants the face of this to be led by the Middle East, as opposed to the U.S. Is that realistic, though? I mean, can we do enough to arm some of the government over there? Should we be concerned about who we are arming, in some cases?

Alireza Jafarzadeh: Certainly, that is the concern the United States legitimately has; and it should remain. But look at the experience in the past, by just looking at Iraq itself; In 2007, even when the United States had over 140,000 troops there, at the end of the day it was the Iraqis, the Sons of Iraq, or the Awakening Councils that the United States supported, they got engaged in fighting the terrorists. And that was the key source for success.

The United States needs to do the same thing. Now what then pushed the moderate Sunnis out of the process was Maliki with the backing of Iran.

The last thing you want to do is bring in Iran. Because they are the arsonists, they are the cause for the trouble. You want to keep them out. That is the key for success.

Trish Regan: Thank you very much.