Ahead of an international meeting on the issue, Iran says it is ready to help international envoy Kofi Annan in his bid to bring peace to Syria, prompting harsh rejections from the US.
Annan called for the meeting, which will take place in Geneva on Saturday, to work with the regional players to find a way to stop the bloodshed in Syria. He has formally invited virtually all relevant counties except for Iran: Britain, China, France, Russia, the US, the European Union, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar.
“From the beginning we have supported Mr Kofi Annan’s plan and we believe that that’s the best way to resolve the issues in Syria. So any kind of consultations by Kofi Annan with the Islamic Republic of Iran is welcomed anytime,” said Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee on Wednesday.
The US, along with Britain an France, have objected to Iran’s inclusion in the meeting, arguing that Iran’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even as he committed atrocities disqualifies their presence.
But that is not a disqualification, as Russia’s inclusion clearly demonstrates. In fact, officials in Washington have been meeting with policymakers in Moscow for months, even as they continue to support and arm the Assad government.
And anyway, criticizing for Iran for meddling in Syria is patently hypocritical since the Obama administration, with the help of the CIA, has been funneling weapons to the Syrian rebels despite the fact that they have committed atrocities of their own. As Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and an expert on Syria, wrote in Foreign Policy this month, “Let’s be clear: Washington is pursuing regime change by civil war in Syria.”
Washington is really objecting to Iran’s inclusion because that would be an admission that Iran as a power can play a role in regional developments. Washington’s aim has been to weaken and isolate Iran, not to bolster its influence by including them in regional talks.
But rejecting Iran’s request to help can only harm the potential for a constructive way forward in Syria, illustrating how little Washington cares about the humanitarian crisis there. Rather, geo-politics and power are their primary concerns and have been from the beginning.
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