By Mick Krever, CNN
Iran has “good experience” fighting terrorists, and came to the aid of Iraqis against ISIS, the speaker of the Iranian parliament told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, saying that U.S.-led airstrikes alone would not be enough to destroy the militants.
“I think it is very unlikely to destroy guerilla fighters by just dropping bombs on their heads,” Ali Larijani said through an interpreter.
Along with the president, Hassan Rouhani, and Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei, he is one of the most powerful people in the country.
“Us, I mean Iran, went to the side of the Iraqis very early when the crisis broke out. We don't really want to broadcast it; we don't want to go to the media and talk about what we did for the Iraqis. But in practice, we defended them.”
The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, has even been photographed on the ground in Iraq.
“Terrorists cannot be destroyed by bombing them. You cannot solve terrorism by occupation. And in order to fight them effectively, you have to choose another method. And you know that we have good experience in that, because we have actually fought against them.”
Larijani declined to elaborate on what that method would be, saying it would tip off ISIS.
Iran and the United States have found themselves to be odd allies in the fight against ISIS, but they differ on strategy. President Rouhani told Amanpour last month that the U.S.-led strikes were mere “theater.”
Some have been calling American troops to once again intervene on the ground in Iraq.
“Part of it can be a ground operation,” Larijani said. “And the people who are going to be there on the ground should be skillful enough. And these people should not be like mercenaries; they need to have enough motivation to do that.”
“Iraqis and Syrians themselves are capable enough to carry out such operations themselves.”
America, he said, should concern itself more with making sure that financial and military support does not find its way to ISIS; several Gulf countries, such as Qatar and Bahrain, have been accused of funnelling support to extremist groups.
“ISIS was not a group that was created on its own. We have to get to the root causes, and we have to know that big powers were responsible for its creation and also some countries of the region.”
“Fighting terrorism is not child's play. It can be very costly.”
A deal is ‘quite possible’
Figuring out a way forward in the ISIS fight is not the only area in which Iran and the United States must a way forward; a November deadline is also looming for negotiations to bring a permanent deal on Iran’s nuclear program, which have been ongoing for nearly a year.
President Rouhani on Monday said on Iranian television Monday that “a nuclear settlement is certain,” according to Reuters.
“I think it is quite possible,” Larijani said. “Of course, this [is] providing that both sides are serious enough about reaching a deal.”
“I think the remaining issues, or the outstanding issues, can be resolved by that deadline, November twenty fourth.”
No jail ‘with no good reason’
Even as Iran seems to open up to the world under President Rouhani, the country is still responsible for jailing dozens of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and activists.
One of those is Washington Post reported Jason Rezaian, who has been in custody since July. His wife, who was being held with him, was recently released.
“According to the rules and the laws in Iran, the charges cannot be publicly announced before an investigation is done,” Larijani said. “As far as I know, there are some charges against this person, but they have not yet been made public because of those laws I told you about. But his case is being processed as we speak.”
Also being held is the activist Ghoncheh Ghavami, who is reportedly on hunger strike, after - according to Amnesty International - attempting to attend a volleyball game, which is an activity reserved for men.
“There should be no doubt that we don't want to send anybody to jail with no good reason. As far as I know, there has been an investigation opened into the case. And I hope that this will come to an end and be concluded as soon as possible.”