News / Middle East

Iran Keeps Low Profile in Syria Diplomacy

Iran Keeps Low Profile in Syria Diplomacyi
X
September 18, 2013 1:58 PM
Syria’s main ally, Russia, has taken on a central role in the effort to get President Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons. But his key regional ally, Iran, has kept a lower profile. As VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London, experts say the Syria conflict is a challenge for Iran, but it may be able to turn the new diplomatic approach to its advantage.

Iran Keeps Low Profile in Syria Diplomacy

Al Pessin
Syria’s main ally, Russia, has taken on a central role in the effort to get President Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons.  But his key regional ally, Iran, has kept a lower profile.  Experts say the Syria conflict is a challenge for Iran, but it may be able to turn the new diplomatic approach to its advantage.
 
The presidents of Syria’s two top allies met last week, and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, took the opportunity to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new role on Syria.
 
He expressed hope that Russian diplomacy will avert what he called “a new war,” an apparent reference to threatened U.S. airstrikes.
 
Iran may have good reason to welcome any easing of tensions on Syria, according to Iran watcher Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.
 
“As much as Syria is a complicated problem for Western nations, it’s immensely more complicated for Iran," noted Fitzpatrick. " I think that in many ways, Syria is becoming like Vietnam for Iran, a mess that they’re stuck in and they can’t get out of.”
 
Exiled Iranian journalist Amir Taheri calls that “an exaggeration,” but said Iran has invested significant resources in Syria for what he said are ideological reasons.
 
“The problem is Iran is a split personality," he explained. "Iran as a revolution has an interest in Syria.  Iran as a country doesn’t have any interest in Syria.  Rouhani wants to make Iran a country again.”
 
Western leaders hope President Rouhani will take a more constructive approach in talks on Iran’s nuclear program, and the new head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency has said as much.
 
"I've come here with a message of my newly elected president to further enhance and expand our ongoing cooperation with the agency and with the aim to put an end to the so-called Iranian nuclear file," remarked Ali Akbar Salehi during a speech to the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency.
 
Fitzpatrick said President Rouhani may want to use a hoped-for Syria peace conference to improve relations with the West, and to enhance his role in Iran’s foreign policy.
 
“The best case for Iran is probably if Iran can be invited to Geneva Two, and that Rouhani’s hand can be strengthened because he can talk to the United States about issues that matter to Iran, not just the nuclear issue that matters to the United States,” he said.
 
But Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would need to back the plan.  And Amir Taheri does not expect that to happen.
 
“Mr. Khamenei, who is the supreme guy, is very much committed to preventing President Assad from falling," Taheri said. "But the real issue is who will reshape the Middle East, the United States and its allies or Iran and its allies? And for the time being, the side on which Iran fights has won.”  
 
Taheri said that will make Ayatollah Khamenei less interested in compromise with the West, and may cancel out any effort by President Rouhani to use the Syria issue to push a more moderate agenda. 

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid