Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr. speaks about the Syrian bombing campaign September 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP
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Whether Washington likes it or not, Shiite Iran, a key ally of the governments of Iraq and Syria, is all but certain to be a major player in the fight against the Sunni militants of ISIS.Any effort to bring Iran and the United States closer will not be easy.The reason is that Washington's Sunni Arab partners in the fight against ISIS regard Iran with even more suspicion than U.S. officials do and see it as trying to consolidate Shiite dominance in Iraq and extend its own influence in the region.Some U.S. and other Western officials privately say that working with Tehran in a similar way might make sense in the fight against ISIS, but they concede that geopolitical rivalries and sectarian hostilities between Iran and Sunni coalition members will make it impossible to coordinate this time around.At the same time, experts say there is relatively little the United States can do to stop Iran from joining in the fight against ISIS on its own terms, as Tehran continues efforts to prop up the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and strengthen its clout with Iraq's Shiite-dominated leadership.
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