Daesh is particularly useful for Washington’s agenda against Iran because its Wahhabi extremism is directed at fomenting sectarian divisions and enmities between Muslims and Christians and Sunni and Shia Muslims. Saudi Arabia and Israel had a direct interest in assisting their American master in orchestrating the terrorist surrogates because of their existential hatred of Iran’s revolutionary government, which undermines the US-backed hegemony of “country-selling regimes”, as American author Ralph Schoenman aptly puts it.

Finian Cunningham is a freelance journalist based in East Africa. His articles have extensively been published mainly on international affairs, and in several languages. Mr. Cunningham is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry with experiences as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England. He has worked as an editor and writer in news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. He regularly appears on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV, as a freelance journalist.

Khamenei.ir has conducted an interview with him on the issues of the Middle East, ISIS, Syria and more. The following is the full text of the interview:

Q: The BESA think-tank published an article calling the destruction of ISIS a strategic mistake for the Zionists; what's your take on that?

First of all, this article published by the Israeli think tank BESA shows how morally bankrupt the Israeli regime and its Western government allies are. BESA is connected to the Israeli authorities and to the US-led military alliance NATO. So its statements are not merely a singular, isolated point of view. (Similar thinking has been expressed before by Israeli officials and Western pundits.) The organizational affiliations indicate that its logic has a wider attribution – to the Israeli regime, its Western government allies, NATO and various American institutions, including universities. Readers can check these affiliations by referring to thisarticle for example published by the Salon journal.

Secondly, the published proposition that the internationally proscribed terror group Daesh (ISIS, IS or ISIL) should not be defeated, that it can be used as a proxy by the Israeli regime and its allies, should be viewed, ironically, as a welcome admission of self-indictment. That a genocidal terror network can be deployed as a geopolitical instrument by Western governments – as the BESA article recommends – is instructive of not only moral bankruptcy, but it also demonstrates the covert heinous political logic and objectives of the US and its allies. That Washington and others should collude with terrorist proxies for geopolitical objectives, such as thwarting Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia, demonstrates the hidden agenda. In that way, the BESA article is a valuable admission of culpability.

But one possible misinformation about the BESA article is that it implies that the Israeli regime and its Western allies, as well as the Saudi and Turkish regimes, have at present no connection to Daesh. It advises that “we should use Daesh” for political, strategic ends. But the evidence documented elsewhere clearly shows that the foregoing governments are already covertly connected logistically to Daesh and other extremist groups. Therefore, the proposition of using Daesh is lagging behind reality. Daesh is already being used as an instrument. Nevertheless, the BESA paper is still a valuable admission of the covert logic and organizational connections.

Q: Is it safe to say Daesh is a project aimed at countering Iran's influence in the region?

Yes. But not just Iran. Daesh and other extremist groups were created covertly by Washington and its allies, with funding, intelligence, weapons and conduits for the purpose of destabilizing the Middle East and the wider regions in order to impede Iran and all states whom Washington designates as “enemies”. It’s a long-held covert policy of Western imperialism to deploy terrorist proxies without any moral or legal compunction. Such proxies can vary in ideology. But generally they are fascistic and of course, as befitting their strategic purpose, implacably violent. In Daesh’s case and that of other al Qaeda-type terror groups, the ideology happens to be a distortion of Islam, a fundamentalist Wahhabi corruption of Islam. This pertains to the Saudi regime’s role in the Washington-led strategy of covert state-sponsored terrorism as a political method. In other parts of the world and in other periods of history, Washington and its allies have utilized more secular proxies, espousing fascism. Washington colluded with rightwing Cuban exile terror groups to try to vanquish socialist Cuba. The US colluded with similar terror groups to destabilize Central and South America. The British used loyalist paramilitary death squads in Ireland and other colonial counterinsurgency terrorist-wars in Africa and Asia by proxy.

By “enemies” of the West we mean governments that do not conform to American hegemonic interests. Iran, Syria, Russia are resistant to Washington’s desired dictate for its political, military and economic domination. Washington must create instability, conflict and sectarian chaos in order to destabilize “enemy” states, or political movements that threaten to overturn the Western-backed status quo.

Daesh is particularly useful for Washington’s agenda against Iran because its Wahhabi extremism is directed at fomenting sectarian divisions and enmities between Muslims and Christians and Sunni and Shia Muslims. By inciting such conflicts, the intended effect is to undermine Iranian influence in the oil-rich Middle East. It is no coincidence that the phenomenon of “Islamic terrorism” or Takfirism came to prominence following the Iranian revolution of 1979. The Iranian revolution and Iran’s regional influence threatened the US hegemonic order in that vital resource-rich region. Saudi Arabia and Israel had a direct interest in assisting their American master in orchestrating the terrorist surrogates because of their existential hatred of Iran’s revolutionary government, which undermines the US-backed hegemony of “country-selling regimes”, as American author Ralph Schoenman aptly puts it.

Q: Do you agree with the idea that Daesh is a Zionist-American creation?

Absolutely. From the foregoing, it is clear that Daesh serves Western imperialism, which is configured by Washington – as the most powerful political entity – and expressed through NATO, subservient European governments, in particular Britain, and regional client regimes, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia, the other Persian Gulf monarchial dictatorships, and Turkey. Zionism is an adjunct to the core political system of Western imperialism, which underpins US-dominated corporate capitalism. Daesh is integrated with al Qaeda terrorism which has its origins in the US proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Instrumental in the creation of this brand of terrorism were the American CIA, Britain, France, and their clients Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israeli intelligence Mossad. More recently, the specific formation of Daesh was deliberately instated by the Obama administration from the beginning of the present war in Syria in 2011 as a means to cause regime change against the government of President Bashar al Assad, a longtime ally of Iran and Russia. That systematic link was disclosed by former US intelligence chief Lt General Michael Flynn, among many other sources. But Flynn’s disclosure in an interview with Al Jazeera in 2015 was significant because of his seniority at the core of the US government. So we have a long history going back decades which demonstrates the tacit strategic connections between the US government and so-called Islamic extremism as a proxy instrument for geopolitical objectives. Some Western politicians and officials may not genuinely be aware of this terror connection to their own governments, which then gives the valuable public effect of “plausible deniability”. No doubt, such Western officials would dismiss the claims made here as “preposterous anti-American propaganda”. But that only reflects their ignorance of the documented terror connections. And of course the Western mass media serves largely to obfuscate because fundamentally they exist to serve the political agenda of their governments, not to truly inform the public, as they arrogantly claim.

Q. Do you think the so-called "US-led coalition" is really about fighting the takfiri groups in Syria?

No. I agree with the assessment made by the Syrian government, among other sources, which is that Washington and its allies are not credible in their claims to be fighting terrorism in Syria or elsewhere. How could they be, when we realize the historical, strategic collusion between Washington and its allies and these terror networks? The idea that Washington is combatting Daesh and other Takfiri groups is an absurd illusion that defies factual analysis. The so-called “war on terror” is a propaganda device to conceal the criminal complicity of Western governments and their Israeli, Saudi and Turk clients. The real connection, if exposed widely to the Western public, would be politically and legally fatal. So, there must be a charade created in order to give the impression of fighting terrorists. (Terrorists, as already noted, that Washington and its allies instigated in the first place.) Admittedly, some US-led military actions do lead to deaths among Daesh and its splinter groups. On occasions, the US eliminates terror operatives through its illegal air strikes in Syria and drone assassinations in Afghanistan and Yemen. Some elements within the US military structure may genuinely believe and act as if they are fighting terrorism. We are not dealing with a monolithic American system. There are wheels within wheels, so to speak. But such exceptions do not negate the deep and largely covert systematic connections. Perhaps the occasional “anti-terror” strikes provide a useful public relations exercise. However, put it in this perspective: Daesh and its myriad offshoots were proliferating in Syria to the point of threatening the state’s viability while the US and its allies were supposedly bombing Syria to defeat such groups. It was only when Russia and Iran intervened vigorously at the end of last year, in concert with the Syrian government and Hezbollah volunteers, that the terror groups began to suffer major defeats. That demonstrates the telling lack of commitment by the US to defeat the terror groups. If we begin with the premise that the terror groups are US proxies, then it is logically consistent that Washington would never destroy what essentially are its assets. There may be a bit of pruning and paring of assets, but not a root and branch destruction.

Q: How do you see the future of takfiri groups in Syria and Iraq?

Regrettably, this sectarian conflict will have an ongoing legacy, perhaps for more decades. In Syria and Iraq, the specific terror groups may be overcome as threats to the integrity and stability of the states. With Russian and Iranian support, there is a good chance of militarily defeating Daesh and related outfits. Hopefully, Syrian and Iraqi societies will eventually be restored to peace and progress. But Daesh and other sectarian proxies will leave a legacy of trauma and sectarian poison. That’s why the “poison” was injected into the region by its political masters. These proxies, from their definition as instruments of Western imperialism, will likely reappear in other countries and regions. Perhaps under different names. This is because the root of this horrible problem is the system of Western imperialism and US-led global capitalism which necessitates the creation, weaponization and injection of such poison in order to assert hegemonic control. Until nations, in particular the people of the West, begin to identify the root cause and then abolish it for a more democratic form of governance and economy then we will continue to see terrorism in the world. In short, terrorism is immanent in Western capitalism and its imperialist function. Washington, its NATO allies and its regional client regimes are criminally complicit. The US, Britain, France and Germany are selling weapons worth billions of dollars to the Saudi regime, which is a bloodthirsty dictatorship waging a terror-war on Yemen, with Daesh as ground force. That is the true nature of Western so-called democracy. It is not democracy. It is imperialism that serves the minority of powerful corporations and super banks and the oligarchic ruling elite. That system is exploiting and destroying the people of the West as well through impoverishment to satisfy a tiny ruling class. Until people rise up to overthrow this nefarious system and replace it with genuine democracy, then we are going to see the instruments of terrorism being used over and over again.