By Martin Matishak - 07/13/14 11:49 AM EDT
Iraq should not be broken up into separate states because of the Sunni insurgency wracking the country, according to Iran’s top diplomat.
“It is in the interest of everybody” to increase stability in the Middle East for Iraq “to keep regional integrity,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Any attempts to break up the country would be “short-sighted,” he added.
Iraq’s fate has once again become a major debate in Washington after the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured large swath of territory throughout the country and seized control of most of the border with Syria.
President Obama has approved 800 troops to go to Iraq to advise government forces on how they might repel ISIS.
On Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged that the Pentagon was aware that Iran was also assisting Iraqi forces, but reiterated that Washington was in no way coordinating military aid with Tehran.
Zarif admitted Iran has “tremendous influence” in Iraq and has been in touch with lawmakers in Baghdad.
He would not say if Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki should resign, but instead said Tehran would use its influence “to convince forces inside the country that the best way forward” is to form a new, inclusive government.
Zarif admonished the U.S. for trying to publicly pressure Maliki to step down.