A former Iranian minister of intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, has added his voice to the growing number of hard-line critics of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (IS) in Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with Fars News, a news outlet affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Moslehi said the coalition was a "bazeecheh" -- a Persian word meaning a "plaything" or a "trifling amusement." Islamic State, Moslehi said, was created by "the triangle of Mossad, MI6, and the CIA," a reference to the Israeli, British, and U.S. intelligence agencies.
Moslehi's remarks come a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Britain of creating IS. Khamenei charged on October 13 that Washington and "the wicked government of Britain" created both IS and Al-Qaeda "to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic [of Iran]" but that the militant groups have turned against them.
Moslehi said that "dollars from Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf countries" had financed the creation of IS, adding that the countries that created IS are now panicking.
"The coalition certainly does not want to destroy IS because it needs to use IS for most of its Satanic goals," Moslehi added.
While both the United States and Iran oppose IS, Tehran -- particularly the supreme leader and the military -- has opposed the U.S.-led coalition against the militant group.
The supreme leader's negative comments about the "wicked government of Britain" echoed in Moslehi's accusations that MI6 cooperated to create IS are in part a reaction to remarks made to the United Nations in late September by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said that Tehran is "part of the problem"in the Middle East. Although Iranian President Hassan Rohani called Cameron's words "unacceptable," the president himself drew criticism in Iran for meeting with the British prime minister after his speech.
Since then, several Iranian figures have criticized Britain. In his interview with Fars News, Moslehi added that while IS comprised "hooligans," Britain and MI6 had previously used similar "hooligans" in the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran to overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadegh.
Moslehi's accusation that Iran's Sunni rival Saudi Arabia funded the creation of IS came after a Saudi minister slammed Iran as "part of the problem" in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal accused Tehran of having "occupying" military forces inside all three countries.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk