FEATURED | New Dimensional Approach : Iran at Syrian Peace Talks

FEATURED | New Dimensional Approach : Iran at Syrian Peace Talks


By IndraStra Global Editorial Team

On October 28, Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would lead a delegation to the Vienna peace talks on Syria Crisis. The invitation, backed by the United States, marks a major change after two earlier failed peace initiatives in 2012 and 2014. In January 2014, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon initially invited Iran to a conference in Geneva. But under U.S. pressure, he withdrew it one day later. His spokesperson cited Iranian public statements that were “not at all consistent” with oral assurances Tehran had given regarding the Geneva Communique, which calls for a transitional government to lead to free and fair elections.

FEATURED | New Dimensional Approach : Iran at Syrian Peace Talks

A man reacts as he mourns the death of his relative after missiles were fired by Syrian government forces on a busy marketplace in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria October 30, 2015. REUTERS/BASSAM KHABIEH via Reuter’s Twitter Account

On October 29, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Vienna with a delegation of Iranians to participate in peace talks on Syria. Zarif met bilaterally with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss implementation of the nuclear deal. Kerry also used the meeting to raise the case of missing and detained U.S. citizens in Iran. Zarif also had a bilateral with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
FEATURED | New Dimensional Approach : Iran at Syrian Peace Talks


 Source: German Foreign Office's Twitter Account

The Syrian National Coalition, a Western-backed opposition group based out of Turkey, opposed Iran’s participation in the Vienna talks. “Involving it in talks undermines the political process,” SNC Vice President Hisham Marwa told Reuters. “What’s important now is not to refuse talks, it is important to express our concern. Iran has only one project – to keep Assad in power... they don’t believe in the principle of the talks.”




Source: UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s Official Twitter Account

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, along with Deputy Foreign Ministers Abdollahian, Abbas Aragchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi, attended the Vienna conference on October 30, according to spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham. Zarif and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, had discussed the Vienna conference earlier in the week. “We call for a widening of the dialogue,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on October 28. Some 20 countries sent representatives to Vienna, including Britain, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. 

Looking at the current Saudi-Iran rivalry, both countries falling on different sides of Middle Eastern conflicts. In Syria, Iran backs President Bashar al Assad, while Saudi Arabia supports Sunni rebels. their political systems are based up on Islam and Sharia. But Iran is the world’s largest Shiite country, while Saudi Arabia is the bastion of a conservative branch of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism. Saudis has been flatly opposed to Iran’s inclusion, maintaining that Tehran has done more than any other actor to fan the flames of the war and, in doing so, impose itself on the Sunni Arab world. However, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged Iran’s role in the conflict. It would be “hard to imagine a Syrian solution without Iran,” he told France 24. “I think it is fair to say that no one is wedded to Bashar al Assad,” Blinken posited. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian had previously told The Guardian that “we are not working for Assad to stay in power forever as president.” But, Senior Saudi ministers in particular say this new posture, after decades of Washington having assumed a front line role in the region, has been an extraordinary variable at a remarkably volatile time, empowering foes and undermining allies.Both have much to gain from preventing Syria's implosion. Under its new president, Iran may be willing to cut the umbilical cord with Assad, who has become a big liability for Tehran in the Arab world. Similarly, if Saudi Arabia can use its influence, it may avoid militant Islamist rebels haunting Syria's neighbors for years to come. It is a tall order, but the stakes for the Syrian people and the international community are huge.

Conclusion:

As a staunch Syrian regime ally, Iran could exercise a positive influence, particularly if the nuclear talks continue to yield encouraging results. Keeping Iran away, on the other hand, undermines the Syria negotiations as well as any efforts the United States has made to strengthen diplomatic relations. The hardliners in Tehran seize upon such signals that the enmity of the West — in particular, Washington — is implacable. So far, Iran has honored its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action. The UN’s nuclear watchdog verified on January 20 that Iran has stopped enriching uranium as it is supposed to. Subsequent UN reports are also positive. Iran might stumble in this dance, of course — Iranian politics are unpredictable. But, given that the alternatives are so undesirable, the Obama administration should take the greatest possible care not to trip its partner.

News Excerpts: The Iran Primer Blog / Image Attributes : Twitter


AIDN: 001-10-2015-0372
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