Qasem Soleimani’s death a blow in fight against IS: Iran foreign minister
The killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike represents a major setback for the campaign against the Islamic State (IS), which poses a threat to India from its bases in Afghanistan, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.
Zarif accused European powers of violating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iranian nuclear deal, and questioned the usefulness of fresh negotiations on the nuclear issue with Washington, especially after US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal.
Referring to the killing of Soleimani in a US drone strike outside the Baghdad airport on January 3, Zarif told the Raisina Dialogue, a think tank event in New Delhi backed by India’s external affairs ministry, “I think the war against Daesh (another name for the Islamic State) just suffered a major setback, and Daesh just won a major victory.
“Now Daesh is closer to you (India) and to us than we all hope or wish. Daesh is in Afghanistan, not only as splinter groups but with territory. They started occupying the same territory from which Taliban started,” he said.
Zarif called for creating a new coalition against the IS because the current coalition used its bases in Iraq to “kill the most effective anti-Daesh general”. The US should show it wants to fight Daesh because the only people celebrating the death of Soleimani are Daesh and Trump, he said.
He questioned the US claim of Iran using proxies around the world by contending there were protests in “430 Indian cities” against what he called the “assassination of a revered general”. The “arrogance” of the US is “fuelling mayhem” and could lead to disaster, he added.
The JCPOA is not dead but Trump’s withdrawal from the deal put a question mark over fresh negotiations with the US, he said. “I had a US deal and the US broke it. If I have a Trump deal, how long will it last? Another 10 months?” he added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for Trump to replace the 2015 deal with a new pact to ensure Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons. Trump, who abandoned the pact in 2018 and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran, has agreed with Johnson’s suggestion.
Iran is interested in diplomacy, but not in negotiating with the US, Zarif said a day after Britain, France and Germany initiated a dispute mechanism process and accused Iran of violating the terms of the JCPOA. The future of the pact rests on Europe, he said.
Zarif accused the European powers of violating their commitments under the JCPOA after being bullied by the US. “They are not buying oil from us, all of their companies have withdrawn from Iran. So Europe is in violation,” he said.
Noting that the EU is the largest global economy, he asked, “So why do you allow the US to bully you around?”