There are two issues of regional importance ongoing in Iran, the first is that of its role in Iraq as a counter balance against the Sunni backed force ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria), the second of nuclear talks. The US and associated allies are against the Assad government in Syria, and for the Sunni Free Syrian Army, but also would like ISIS to dissolve and stop being the new Middle Eastern headache. Iran would like the same and has been supporting the Shia militia fighting against ISIS, thought it has not stated this officially. Is Iran to be a friend or a foe?

For the anti-hero Iran, internal justifications have come to the media simplifying the situation into a bite size theory that its population can digest. Iran’s English language daily newspaper, the Tehran Times described ISIS in Iraq as part of a US backed plot to destabilize the region and protect Israel. Irani media and leaders are trying to ignore ISIS’s origins in local terror groups like al-Qaeda and popular discontent in both Syria and Iraq against the Shia power. As another Western plot against Iran, ISIS can be managed. As something that has sectarian roots due to Sunni discontent in Iraq opens a can of worms. So when officially, Iran fights ISIS it can do so in the name of fighting terrorism—and not for the cause of supporting its Shiite ally in government. For now this is a smart move, an overtly sectarian agenda would invite regional backlash and threaten the state. Iran is surrounded by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and even Afghanistan, full of Wahabi Sunnism and Sunni backed militancy.

Coming to the issue of nuclear talks, Iran will get assets of $2.8 billion unfrozen in monthly batches as a concession when it turns a quarter of its stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium oxide into fuel plates, which would make it almost impossible to convert it back into gas that could be further enriched to weapons’ grade. Iran is still hurting over US support for Saddam Hussain in the Iran-Iraq War and the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner with the loss of 300 lives. These nuclear dilutions have brought Iran to the table and may be the end of a 35 year old stalemate between Iran and the US since the Tehran hostage crisis. But with such complications, it will be a long time before Iran has any clear allies or friends.