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Why Iran, Saudi Arabia keep locking horns on Syria

The window of opportunity for regional dialogue provided by the Iran nuclear deal appears wasted as Tehran and Riyadh stick to their positions.

The opening created in the aftermath of the July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, or P5+1), which could have triggered a diplomatic uplift over Syria, has so far been wasted. Instead, the regional divide over Syria is deepening and major powers have failed to seriously press Riyadh and Tehran to de-escalate their proxy war in Syria. Meanwhile, the costs for the West and the Middle East continue rising as a result of the festering crises in Syria and Iraq.

There had been hopes that this month’s UN General Assembly in New York could provide the platform to actively pursue diplomacy on Syria. But UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has so far been unable to effectively set into motion plans for "de-conflicting" Syria through the formation of a new contact group.

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