Zarif visits Damascus to discuss Syria proposal to UN

Iranian foreign minister visits Damascus in order to negotiate Tehran’s proposal which will be submitted to UN to terminate ongoing conflict in Syria

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Damascus, Syria

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Damascus on Wednesday where he met with Bashar al Assad and discussed Tehran’s four-point proposal which aimed at ending the Syrian civil war.

As the conflicts surged around the Syrian capital, Zarif visited Damascus after his trip to Lebanon for negotiations with the Syrian government over a plan to be submitted to the UN.

“Details of the plan will be revealed after discussions with the Syrian government in Damascus," Marzieh Afkham, the spokeswoman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told the official IRNA agency.

According to a Lebanese politician familiar with the Iranian proposal who told  Associated Press on condition of anonymity, the Syrian plan includes a ceasefire process during which Assad will rule a power-sharing government until an internationally-supervised election.

The Lebanese politician also said Iranian leadership was "not ready" to withdraw its staminal support for Assad regime which was heavily dependent on foreign political and military support since the conflicts erupted in late 2011.

Iran is known for its solid stance towards the Syrian crisis and backs the Assad regime through sending weaponry and human resources, a vital support that essentially annoys Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait as well as Turkey in the region.

Zarif maintained such approach in Damascus and called the Gulf Arab dynasties to give up their support for the Syrian opposition as he paid attention to the increasing militancy in the war-torn country,

"It is time for the other players and our neighbors to take note of reality, listen to the demands of the Syrian people and work for combatting extremism and terrorism," Zarif said, according to Syrian state-run TV that quoted the top Iranian foreign diplomat.

Syria's state news agency, SANA also reported that Zarif had stressed that any solution for the Syrian crisis should be "far from any foreign intervention and in a way that preserves the country's territorial unity" and independence.

Iran and world’s outlook on the Syrian crisis

The Iran’s nuclear deal agreed on July 14 in Vienna is expected to further dissipate Western pressure over Damascus since Iran enhances its bargaining power regarding the regional crises foremost in Syria and Yemen.

Immediately after the deal reached last month, Iranian FM had suggested a regional dialogue committee be formed to tackle the multiple crises in the Middle East where Iran’s conventional support and political influence necessitate Tehran’s active mediation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem visited Tehran last week and met with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as the parties clinched their views on Syria and other security issues surrounding the Middle East.  

Both Iran and Syria got the Russian support against Western pressures over the escalating military and humanitarian crises.

Russia has so far supported the Assad regime together with Iran whereas the US and other Western allies together with the Gulf Arab dynasties have long been insisting on the regime change in Syria.

Since the Geneva talks, the US and Russia have been clashing over the ongoing Syrian crisis for which the parties could not have converged on how to end the civil war engulfing the Assad regime in Damascus.

The US and Russia are still negotiating to find a proper solution to the issue, but the parties continue to have essential divergences on the matter since ISIS advancement in and around Syria has further complicated the issue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month reiterated Moscow’s staminal support to Syria when the Syrian FM Moualem visited Moscow.

Putin warned of any external use of force which might attempt at changing the Assad regime in order to terminate the civil war, but admitted that an international cooperation needed to solve the crisis in Syria.

But the US has been focusing in Syria on the struggle with ISIS rather than immediately changing the Assad regime as the militant group captured strongholds in Syria and Iraq since June 2014.

Washington has lately convinced Ankara over its campaign against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq as the parties also agreed on the utilisation of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey’s Adana province last month.

The Pentagon launched manned air strikes by using Incirlik Air Base to destroy ISIS targets in Syria on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Syria's warring parties declared a 48-hour ceasefire on Wednesday that is allegedly mediated by Iran and Turkey in two frontline areas of the rebel-held town of Zabadani and in a pair of Shia Muslim villages in Idlib province.  

Turkey and Iran have so far essentially diverged on the Syrian crisis since Ankara called Assad’s resign from the power by the very beginning.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani last week and discussed the regional issues concerning the crises in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey has been so far the most affected party from instability and disorder in Syria given the fact that the country has a long border with its southern neighbour as well as hosting almost 1.8 million Syrian refugees who were forced to flee from the regime’s military attacks and ISIS killings.

Erdogan was said to have reiterated a political solution without the Assad regime in Syria to the Iranian leadership whereas Rouhani has expressed Iran’s willingness to develop bilateral ties even if the Middle East crises create some policy divergences between Tehran and Ankara.

Zarif was scheduled to visit Ankara this week on Tuesday, but he cancelled the trip in the last minute by changing his route to Lebanon on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Beirut where he also met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, a cordial ally of the Assad regime.

Hezbollah is known for its keen support for Assad regime in Syria while it gets huge political and military support from Iran which perceives the militant group as an independent political party in Lebanon.

The group has sent hundreds of fighters to Syria in order to fight against Syrian opposition groups which varied in the course of four years of conflict.

The ongoing conflicts led to death of almost 250,000 people in Syria while millions of Syrians either displaced in the country or forced to flee to the neighbouring countries Turkey and Lebanon and to Europe.



TRTWorld and agencies