We’ve gotten a few messages here at SOFREP wondering if ISIS (or IS, if you prefer their new designation) will end up as Iran’s client, thus presenting the Western world with a unified Islamist empire/threat. The question is not only deeply ignorant of the present (and historical) situation in the Middle East, it is unlikely in the extreme.
Iran is a Shi’a theocracy, at least on the surface. (The Council of Guardians and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran, control something close to 90% of Iran’s wealth, and some of their actions in recent years suggest that for all their apocalyptic rhetoric, they really don’t want to risk that kind of wealth and power. Ahmadinejad was removed from the Presidency for a reason.) They have supported jihadist organizations, most notably Hezbollah, the Lebanese/Syrian militia that had the highest American body count (largely thanks to the Beirut bombing in 1983) of any terrorist organization prior to 9/11.
The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham is a virulently hard-core Sunni Salafist terrorist organization/army. They are an offshoot of Al Qaeda, a Wahhabi Salafist terrorist organization. The Wahhabi sect of Islam grew out of Saudi Arabia, and is perhaps the strictest form of Salafism (“Salafi” means “predecessor; Salafism is about getting back to the “original” Islam, therefore the term “Islamic fundamentalists.”).
If anyone has really been paying attention to events in Iraq and Syria recently, it should soon become obvious that ISIS has been fighting Iran’s proxies in both countries. When one pulls back from the myriad groups and competing interests, a wider picture of a regional war between Sunni and Shi’a appears.