WASHINGTON (AFP) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday criticised the United States for its refusal to send troops into combat in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) which he claimed were seeking to “kill humanity.”
Speaking in an interview with NBC television in Tehran before heading to the United Nations ahead of next week’s General Assembly, the Iranian leader appeared to question whether the US could achieve victory over the IS group without putting boots on the ground.
“Are Americans afraid of giving casualties on the ground in Iraq? Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?” Rouhani told NBC according to excerpts of the interview.
“If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody is injured from the American side, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice? Is it possible to reach a big goal without that? In all regional and international issues, the victorious one is the one who is ready to make sacrifice.”
His Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also cast doubt on the US strategy against the IS group saying it was a “very dangerous phenomenon” which could not be “eradicated through aerial bombardment.”
US President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in Washington on September 17, after he spoke by telephone earlier in the day with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (ABOVE) in the first conversation between American and Iranian leaders in more than 30 years – PHOTOS: AFP
“We need to look at the problems that have given rise to these very difficult and disturbing developments,” Zarif told a US think-tank, saying IS militants grew out of support from other countries who had created “a Frankenstein that came to haunt its creators.”
“We need new tools to deal with these new realities,” Zarif told the Council on Foreign Relations, suggesting the 2003 US invasion of Iraq had sown the seeds for the chaos now sweeping the Middle East.
The IS group had “an agenda to advance,” Zarif said, warning all nations had to look at what “disenfranchisement has done to the people so that they are prepared to accept that type of savagery.”
Rouhani said while airstrikes were necessary in “some conditions and some circumstances”, they should only go ahead with the “permission of the people of that country and the government of that country.”
US President Barack Obama has ruled out deploying US troops on the ground against the IS group.
US warplanes began airstrikes against the brutal extremist organisation’s fighters in Iraq last month while building an international coalition against the group.
While critical of the United States’ reluctance to send troops into battle, Rouhani said the IS group must be stopped.
The group’s executions of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Briton David Haines were at odds with Islamic tenets, he said.
“They want to kill humanity,” Rouhani told NBC.
“And from the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing innocent people equals the killing of the whole of humanity.
“And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s a matter of concern and sorrow for all humans and all mankind.”
Rouhani said Iran would provide Iraq with any support necessary, but stressed a “red line” would be crossed if IS fighters moved on Baghdad or holy sites.