Iranian Proposal for Syria Crisis Gets Nowhere in Regional Quartet
By: Rosana Bou Mouncef Translated from An-Nahar (Lebanon).
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has arrived in Damascus after taking part in a quartet alliance meeting that included Iran, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. This followed a second meeting in Cairo in which Saudi Arabia did not take part. According to Iran, Salehi has come to Syria with a nine-point proposal to solve the Syrian crisis.
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Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi has presented a nine-point peace plan for Syria to a "regional quartet" meeting with Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia — a proposal which has won no support. Rosana Bou Mouncef reports that even Russia has instead backed the UN mission.Publisher: An-Nahar (Lebanon)
The International Quartet following in the footsteps of the Regional Quartet
Author: Rosana Bou Mouncef
First Published: September 20, 2012
Posted on: September 21 2012
Translated by: Sahar Ghoussoub and Joelle El-Khoury
The solution calls on both parties to simultaneously cease violence and emphasizes the need for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. It also calls for a stop to all training, financial and military support being provided to the opposition and proposes sending observers from the quartet nations to Syria. So far, none of these states have expressed any positive or negative reactions regarding the Iranian proposal. Sources said that these reactions are irrelevant and it would be wrong for these states to completely reject the Iranian initiative, so that greater cooperation between these regional states and Iran remains possible in the future.
However, according to sources, the initiative has yet to garner any support. The visit coincided with a number of events that show that Iran’s vision is incompatible with that of the other countries. First of all, Saudi Arabia did not participate in the meeting. Some have interpreted this as a sign that the kingdom is unwilling to give Iran an opportunity to voice its positions. Secondly, while Salehi was visiting the Syrian capital, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said that Egypt's position is different from that of Iran. He repeatedly emphasized his belief that there is no solution that doesn’t involve Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leaving office. Furthermore, this latter position has also been repeatedly expressed by Turkish officials, especially as of late.
This means that the Iranian initiative lacks any support, even from Russia, which has sided with Iran in its support for the Syrian regime. In fact, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying that his country backs the mission of Lakhdar Brahimi in Syria, without mentioning the Iranian initiative. This announcement came in conjunction with the Iranian move and the quartet meeting. Moreover, during meetings with member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, Iran had promised that it would submit an initiative regarding Syria during the movement’s summit, which was held in the Iranian capital a few weeks ago.
However, Iran eventually went back on its promise, after realizing that many states disagreed with its position. This is especially true given that the majority of the states that took part in the summit had supported Arab proposals to resolve the Syrian crisis at the United Nations General Assembly’s meetings. Since these Arab proposals call for the Syrian president to step down in favor of a transitional government, these countries cannot support an initiative that ensures the survival of the Syrian regime while making political compromises in exchange for reforms or other concessions.
According to sources with knowledge of the Iranian initiative — which the Iranian media has described as a road map laid out by Tehran to solve the Syrian crisis — it is likely to be supported by the Syrian regime, regardless of its chances of success. However, the initiative is likely to fail given that the Syrian opposition rejects such a proposal on the grounds that Iran is a key supporter of the regime. The Syrian regime, on the other hand, is expected to approve the initiative as it will likely call for negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition in order to set up a committee of national reconciliation. A cease-fire offer will also be placed on the table, but along the lines of Russia’s proposal, which rejected the idea that the regime withdraw its troops and stop the killing as the first step of the cease-fire.
According to these sources, the regime’s potential approval of the initiative, regardless of its chances of success, is likely to reinforce Iran’s position on the grounds that the regime’s responsiveness will pave the way for Iran to play a key role in reaching a solution in Syria. Thus, Iran will later on attempt to reach an agreement with the major powers in order to preserve some of its strategic interests in Syria. Russia is likely to follow suit in order to preserve its interests following the collapse of the Syrian regime. This will be achieved based on advantages that have been offered to Russia in return for its help in reaching a peaceful and swift political solution in Syria.
While most of the major powers have alienated Iran from the working group that met in Geneva to discuss the Syrian crisis, some major countries have set two conditions for Iran to be included within the group. The first such condition stipulates that Tehran comply with international requirements regarding its nuclear program.
In any case, should the regional quartet meetings continue, the quartet is preparing to hold a third convention in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s meetings. The meetings at the UN will continue, even though Saudi Arabia has not attended previous meetings. The International Quartet on the Middle East, which includes the UN, Russia, the European Union and the United States, will discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, although the meetings are still ongoing in theory, there have been no results on the ground. These meetings serve as mere moral satisfaction to the parties of the dialogue table, who seek a solution to the crisis. They are buying time until the situation is ripe for a solution.
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