Iran has done a few things recently that indicate it may be willing to take a more conciliatory stance toward the West, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: That transition, if it’s even in progress, is worlds away from completion.
To wit: Iran is reportedly instructing militants in Iraq to attack American interests there if and when the U.S. launches a strike on Syria, according to communications intercepted by U.S. intelligence. The most obvious target would be the American embassy in Baghdad, the most heavily fortified embassy in the world and one of the targets the militants were reportedly ordered to attack.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the intercepts; a source confirmed them to Fox News, but noted that their veracity hasn’t yet been thoroughly vetted. These intelligence intercepts notwithstanding, a couple of powerful figures in Iran have expressed serious reservations about the conduct of the Syrian regime, despite the two being nominal allies.
The new foreign minister said last week that “big mistakes that have taken place by the rulers in Syria, unfortunately, have prepared the backdrop for abuse.” A former Tehran mayor who’s close to President Hassan Rouhani characterized Iran’s stance toward the Syrian crisis as “complete neutrality, condemning chemical attacks, and condemning military attacks and intervention,” and Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who has the ear of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed the recent chemical attacks on the Assad government (this statement was originally reported by Iranian state media, then removed without explanation).
Iran’s stance, then, appears to be more nuanced than, well, most of the positions the country takes. Powerful elements within and around the government disapprove of what Assad is doing, yet the country also opposes military action to depose of Assad. By process of elimination, then, it would seem that Iran favors a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. This is a rather moderate position to take, and actually one that’s in line with the broad international consensus voiced at the G20 summit this week.
That being said, the State Department issued an alert today warning against travel to Iraq, saying that terrorism levels are “at levels unseen since 2008,” so we wouldn't call this a reconciliation just yet.