Tehran peace conference on Syria attracts representatives from 40 countries
May 29, 2013, 09:15 EDT
Even as the US and Russia grapple with organizing a conference on Syria next month (June) in Geneva, Iran has pre-empted the big powers by hosting an international conference on Syria in Tehran today. Representatives from some 40 countries including such heavyweights as Russia, China and Turkey are attending. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, Oman’s Deputy Foreign Minister Youssef Al-Harthi, Former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Minister for Defense and National Service of Tanzania Shamsi Vuai Nahodha are among the officials attending the conference, the third held by Iran since the Syrian crisis erupted.
While there is no surprise about Russia and China participating in the Tehran conference since both are opposed to western intervention in Syria and have rejected any Security Council resolutions (as happened over Libya), the real surprise is Turkey.
It is clear that Ankara has been chastened by its policy failure in Syria. Equally disconcerting for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the rebuff from US President Barack Obama earlier this month when he visited Washington. Erdogan’s entourage included his intelligence chief bringing maps and charts to convince Obama that Bashar al-Asad’s forces had used chemical weapons—declared a ‘red line’ by the US president. Instead, Obama poured cold water over the allegation saying it was not clear who had used such weapons. Erdogan has also faced stiff internal opposition as well as suffered blowback in the form of attacks on Turkish soil.
The Tehran conference once again confirms Iran’s pivotal role in regional affairs. Russia has said Iran must be included in Geneva-II, a proposal opposed by some western countries led by France. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a well-known Zionist, is frustrated that the Asad regime has not fallen; he and other western leaders blame Iran for bolstering the Damascus government. They also accuse the Lebanese resistance group Hizbullah of backing Syrian government forces. Hizbullah leader Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah has made no secret of his support for the government of Bashar al-Asad saying that its fall would be a major blow to the resistance front against Zionist Israel.
Even while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry continue to discuss the modalities of Geneva-II, as they did in Paris on Monday, hawkish American senators have been pushing for arming the rebels with heavy weapons. Senator John McCain even entered Syria illegally on Monday from Turkey and met rebel commanders in a provocative move. Had a Cuban or Russian official or lawmaker, for instance, met some anti-US rebels on the Mexico border, one can imagine the uproar that would have erupted in Washington. There would be calls for military strike against the offending country. Why do American senators think they have the right to illegally enter other countries and call for arming foreign mercenaries fighting against the government?
Emboldened by such blatant American support as well as the May 27 decision by the European Union to arm Syrian rebels, the situation in Syria is getting more dangerous. Western-backed and armed rebels are not making much headway leading to panic in western capitals. Britain and France in particular want to arm the rebels unilaterally even if other EU members do not agree. Austria expressed dismay at such blatant attempts by the UK and France saying arming the Syrian rebels would only increase bloodshed.
While western leaders hypocritically talk about bringing peace to Syria, their policy is aimed at exacerbating the crisis and causing more bloodshed. It is clear that they do not want peace; in fact, there is growing evidence that the US and its allies want the fighting to continue. This will weaken the Syrian government and undermine the resistance front while keeping the illegitimate Zionist regime safe.
Islamic Iran is not only anxious for genuine peace but without its support there can be no progress in Syria. The Tehran conference once again underscores this point. Whether Geneva-II materializes or not, the real deal is in Tehran. The sooner everyone admits this the sooner there will be peace for the long-suffering people of Syria.