Con Hallinan

Iran is the most effective force against the ISIS: analyst

Iran is probably the most effective force against the ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in both countries.

Dr. Conn M. Hallinan is a noted columnist and author whose works have appeared on various issues including the U.S. foreign policy, EU politics and Middle East current affairs. He has worked as an independent journalist for over 40 years. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He won the UCSC Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award for his supervision of the journalism program at the University of California at Santa Cruz for 23 years. In an interview with Dr. Hallinan has answered to questions on ISIS, US-Saudi coalition in funding terrorism and Iran's power in the region:​


In your opinion who created ISIS and why did defeating ISIS take so long?

The ISIS was an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq and included a number of former members of the Iraqi military. In a sense, its formation was the direct outcome of the U.S. invasion. 


What's your take on the role of Iran in fighting terrorism in Syria and Iraq?

Iran is probably the most effective force against the ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in both countries. However, it should be careful not to fall into the sectarian war that Saudi Arabia is currently trying to brew up.


Are we witnessing the rise of Neocon influence on the US politics aiming at Iran?

 That is a concern. Iran has been so thoroughly demonized in the U.S. that people can say almost anything about Iran and it will be taken as the truth. The push from the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia and its allies is very dangerous. But at this point I do not see it developing into a war, which would be catastrophic, and certainly not popular with the American people. The only people that could fight it would be the U.S. and Israel. The Saudis are experts at bombing wedding parties but taking on Iran? 


Why do you think the UN ignores the continued Saudi crimes against Yemen?

I think the world ignores Yemen because it is small and poor and the Saudis are committed to winning that war (which they can’t).There are a couple of places you should never get into a war because there is no center in those countries, no one all-dominant group. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen are cases in point. The Shiites are a majority in Iraq, but just. The Pashtuns are a plurality in Afghanistan, but not enough to conquer the Tajiks or Uzbeks. The Houthi are about 32% of Yemen: they can’t conquer the country, but no one can conquer them. Conclusion: don’t get into a war in those places. It is disgraceful that the UN ignores Yemen (well, not quite ignore), but the Saudis are off their meds on the country, and no one else cares enough to do anything. The US is backing the Saudis, France is busy selling arms to the Saudis and the UAE, same for the Brits (who used to own the place).


Given the differences between France and the US in terms of politics, in your view why did France become an Iran hawk?

There are some differences, in particular on the Palestinian issue, but in the end, France is not much different than the U.S. It hates Iran because it has never forgiven the Syrians for tossing them out of the country and helping the long-oppressed Shiites in Lebanon gain a measure of power. And remember, it was the U.S. that drew up the war in Libya, but it was French warplanes that struck first. La difference? Small. And the French have long memories (and lucrative customers for military hardware in the Persian Gulf).


 Considering Saudi regime's record of funding terrorist organizations around the world—in your opinion, why are the ties between the US and Saudi Arabia growing? 

Saudis funding terrorism?  You mean like the U.S. funded the terrorists in Afghanistan? The Contra terrorists in Nicaragua? The death squads throughout Latin America? The terrorists in Angola and Mozambique? Sorry, the Saudis are amateurs next to the U.S. when it comes to funding terrorism. The U.S. wants to keep Iran down, the oil in the hands of the monarchs, and to rule the world. The problem is, they can’t do it anymore, although they may get a lot of people killed trying to do it.

What practical measures the independent nations should take to fight the axis of American-Saudi-Israeli terrorism?

The key thing is to stop any war on Iran. The Security Council should make it clear that any attack on Iran will be a violation of international law. The Saudis and the US don’t really give a fig for international law, but if Europe unites around “hands off Iran,” that will make a difference.