ID : N-1813 Date : 2018/05/21 - 15:34
(Persia Digest) – Talking about the reasons for Russia’s comments on the necessity of Iran leaving Syria, former Iranian Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Afshar Soleimani, said: “Russia seems to be working with the United States on Syria, and Iran must announce readiness to negotiate on Syria with all countries, including the United States.”
Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked for all military units to leave Syria. His advisor on Syrian affairs, Alexander Lavrentiev, said this included Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. This met with a response from Iran’s spokesperson at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bahram Ghassemi, who said: “Nobody can force Iran into anything. Iran is an independent country and its policies are based on its own global interests. Iran is in Syria on the invitation of its government to fight terrorism and defend its territorial integrity. For as long as the threat of terrorism exists and the Syrian government wants Iran to stay and help, we will be there.”
What is Russia's aim for announcing such a policy at this point in time?
Former Iranian Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Afshar Soleimani, told Persia Digest: “Such a statement from Russia was not new to me, and it was clear that Russia would take such an action."
He said that, of course, it is natural for Russia to look after its own interests, and added: “The problem is with certain officials in Iran who place all their eggs in Russia’s basket. They are not familiar with the ABC of international relations and do not know the international system and its actors.”
This expert on international affairs stated: “Russia has always used Iran as a playing card. This is evident in their use of Nojeh airbase and its public announcement despite Iran’s reluctance and their agreement. This was met with Iran’s annoyance at the time and entailed a reaction from Iran’s Defense Minister at the time.”
On the reason for such an announcement by the Russians, Soleimani said: “Russia seems to be working with the United States on Syria. The Russians became involved in Syria to negotiate with the United States on issues such as the Ukraine and NATO. They were not seeking to increase their role in the Middle East. Another reason for their entry into Syria was the internal security debate due to the return of the Chechens who had gone to Syria."
He continued: “Therefore, Russia used Iran as a tool in Syria, and Iran, unfortunately, placed itself in the shadow of Russia."
He added: “It now seems this is a precondition for Putin's trip to the United States and the give and take that is supposed to take place there."
In answer to the question of whether Bashar Al Asad favors Iran leaving Syria, Soleimani said: “Bashar Al Asad has no power in Syria and it is the Russians who have the upper hand there. I believe that even if the US offered its support to Al Asad now, he would certainly distance himself from Iran in return."
He went on to say: “Many oppose Iran in Syria and there is nothing Bashar Al Asad can do about it. Taking into account the pressures Iran is under, there is nothing it can do either.”
He added: “In fact, continuing this process has nothing for Iran but costs.”
About the role Iran can play in the Syrian crisis, Soleimani said: “Iran must not allow Russia to take advantage of it. It is in Iran’s interest to announce that it will talk on Syria with all countries, including the US and take an approach here similar to the one in the JCPOA negotiations.”
He added: “Russia has now given Iran reason to apply such a mechanism in Syria. There is still time for Iran to conduct talks on Syria with all the countries involved in the crisis.”