ANKARA: Tehran expressed unease about being excluded from a recent Russian-brokered meeting in Moscow between Syrian and Turkish defense ministers and senior intelligence officials.
The critically worded comment came from Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani at a press conference on Monday, saying:
“Syria, Russia and Turkiye are key players of the Islamic Republic of Iran in combating terrorism in Syria, supporting the country’s government and people, and supporting the country’s territorial integrity and the process of resolving the Syrian crisis. I am aware of the role,” he said. Added.
Iranian officials did not attend the meeting in Moscow, but it is still unclear if they will be invited to the next meeting scheduled for late January.
Turkiye, Iran and Russia jointly launched the Astana Process in 2017 to restore stability in Syria. But the war-torn country has been a source of rivalry between Tehran and Ankara since the Syrian crisis began, with Turkiye and Iran backing the other side.
Iran sees the Syrian regime as key to confronting Israel, while Turkiye supports opposition groups fighting the Bashar Assad regime.
Iran also attaches importance to the Shia towns of Nabal and al-Zahra in northern Syria and seeks to keep them within its sphere of influence. However, the Turkish operation against Tal Rifaat to unite the Turkish-controlled Afrin and Al-Bab regions would leave these Shiite towns at risk of attack due to their proximity.
A possible Turkish military operation in northern Syria could also put Turkish and Iranian proxies on the brink of clashes.
“Throughout the Syrian civil war, Iran’s official narrative has constantly reiterated the need for a diplomatic solution to the conflict and the futility of a military solution, despite Iran’s presence as a military mastermind in Assad’s ground war. Dr. Gurriz Sen, a Turkish-Iranian official at TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara, told Arab News.
“Iran has also expressed several times its desire to mediate between Turkiye and Syria, even hinting at hosting a meeting in Tehran to facilitate reconciliation. We believe that Putin is now acting as a major power broker,” she added.
According to Dr Sen, Tehran also sees that the dynamics of northern Syria have been largely negotiated between Turkiye and Russia in the past few years, but Tehran’s position has seen close ties to the Assad regime. to maintain and coordinate with the Syrian government. .
“Tehran is burgeoning talks between Turkiye and Syria to keep the Assad regime in power, preserve Syria’s territorial integrity, and curb and possibly end Turkiye’s military presence in the country. As long as it serves its interests, they will be satisfied and relieved,” she added.
Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International Security Affairs, said Russia’s mediation between Syria and Turkiye without Iran’s involvement is evidence of Russia’s political influence over the Assad regime. A series of talks to negotiate an end to the war.
“Since March 2020, bilateral cooperation between Russia and Turkey has begun to replace a tripartite framework involving Iran as part of the Astana process. We welcome any initiative to stop the military operation in Turkiye,” he told Arab News.
In March 2020, Russia and Turkiye agreed to a ceasefire in the Syrian rebel-held province of Idlib in a three-point deal brokered by the presidents of Turkey and Russia, including the creation of a security corridor.
“In the past, Iran itself offered mediation between Damascus and Ankara, but it failed. Russia’s mediation over Syria and Turkiye marginalized Iran to some extent, but nevertheless aligned with Tehran’s interests in the region. We do,” Azizi said.
However, experts do not expect Iran to receive an invitation to the next trilateral meeting.
“Tehran may not be invited to the foreign ministers’ meeting in late January, and the process is being mediated by Russia, but Iran is closely following the talks and will be making its strategic calculations. We confirm that it is legitimate, and it is reflected in the outcome of the conference,” said Dr. Sen.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu provided more details about the forthcoming talks in an interview with CNN Tak on Tuesday.
“All decisions regarding Syria cannot be made in one meeting. added that the Syrian regime was eager to cooperate in repatriating Syrians.