File - Iran initially hoped that by helping Maliki with weapons and intelligence he would be able to contain the crisis.
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Iran is wrestling with a complex array of historic alliances and enmities as it tries to develop a coherent response to the swift advance of hostile Sunni militants in neighboring Iraq.President Hassan Rouhani has taken a more conciliatory tone toward the "Great Satan" since his election a year ago, though he remains subordinate to Khamenei in setting foreign policy.He has suggested cooperating with the United States in Iraq, if Washington tackles "terrorism" in the region – a swipe in part at support from U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Sunni Islamists fighting Iranian allies in Damascus and Baghdad.U.S. officials have been pushing Riyadh to use its influence among fellow Sunnis in Iraq to persuade them to join a coalition government in Baghdad.For all the possible benefits to Iran of cooperation with the West, its rulers are also anxious not to be seen as an ally of the United States, and especially not of Washington's protege Israel, against Sunnis who outnumber Shiites two to one across the Middle East.
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