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The US Embassy bombing, Beirut 1983: We must not forget that Iran was responsible

Since Syria's vicious sectarian war spilled over into Iraq, the mood has been mounting in Washington to cooperate with Iran. With the consolidation    of the Islamic State (IS) in large areas of Mesopotamia this summer, calls are now even being heard for joining forces with Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

In both cases, what drives this potential regional realignment is the notion that my enemy's enemy is my friend. The problem with this vision? My enemy's enemy is not my friend, not even by the wildest stretch of the imagination. In fact, in both cases, my enemy's enemy has been and remains friendly with my enemy. Despite its proclaimed dislike for Sunni radicals and its historic rivalry with Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, Iran has hosted senior al-Qaeda leaders inside Iran since late 2001. Though ostensibly under house arrest, they were able to retain significant operational freedom.

Iran's tactical alliance with al-Qaeda's leadership stems from a deeper dislike for the US, which manifested itself through Iran's support for the Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban carried out large-scale massacres of Shia Hazara in Afghanistan. But that did not stop Shia Iran from supplying them with weapons in their fight against Nato forces since 2001.

For its part, Iran's proxy in Damascus, Assad's regime, for years allowed volunteers for the anti-American jihad in Iraq to transit through Syria. It did not bother Assad that these fighters, under different circumstances, would be his sworn enemies. After all, his loathing for Sunni radicals did not prevent Assad from hosting Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the same Sunni Muslim Brotherhood his father had drowned in the Hama bloodbath of 1982.

Eventually, the Sunnis turned on Assad. Iran has invested heavily in Assad's survival by rallying its Shia Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, to Assad's defence. Regardless, there is evidence that, all the while, Iran has aided Sunni insurgents inside Iraq while Assad turned a blind eye to the rise of the Islamic State as a tool to divide, discredit and weaken anti-regime forces. IS has been busier fighting other insurgents than it has combating the Assad regime. Its brutality has helped cement the regime's narrative that the insurgency is made of Islamist terrorists. In the process, it has cemented the West's reluctance to come to the rebels' aid.

Iranian backing of what Westerners presume to be its most implacable foes has been consistent. Such preference for Sunni radicals over Western powers shows how tenuous our partnership with Iran would be — tenuous and morally revolting.

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