Syrian President’s Refusal to Participate in Iran-West Talks Caused by Tehran’s Pressure

Politics Materials 5 August 2008 19:30 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, 5 August / Trend corr. U.Sadikhova, D.Khatinoglu/ Even if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decides to assist Iran on its nuclear problems with the West, his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not allow a third side to the issue, in spite of country's trust relationships with Damascus.

"Iran claims to be the leading country in the Middle East. So, Ahmadinejad is unlikely to admit a third side to take part in the political life of his country," an Aljazeera observer Huzam said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Beirut on 5 August.

Iran would not allow Syria's interference on any circumstances, because Bashar al-Assad has not yet firmly consolidated the new relations with Europe.

"Syrian President's proposal to mediate in the process could not have a positive result, since Syria itself is too weak to interfere with Iran-West relations," Iranian expert Mehran Barati, a member of the Berlin Research Centre, said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Berlin on 5 August.

During his 2-day visit to Tehran on 4 August, Syrian President attempted to use his relations with the West to act as an intermediary to solve Iran-West problems. However, he said to Iranian journalists at a press conference that Syria was uncapable of doing anything to solve the problem, BBC reported on 4 August.

Iran and Syria have been maintaining close relations during several decades, mainly because Syrian administration belongs to the same religious branch with Iran - Shiism.  In spite of Iran's current problem with the West due to its nuclear program, Damascus still renders direct assistance to Tehran.

Iran's nuclear issues, which were the key topic of discussion at the meeting of the two Presidents, have entered such an impasse that a third side, in this case Syria, cannot change the situation.

Syrian political scientist Husnu Mahalli said Iran and West are pursuing an original nuclear policy. Therefore, there is no need in mediation of Syria or another side.

"Ahmadinejad is negotiating with the West on the basis of independent principles not based on the views or proposals of a third side," Mahalli said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Istanbul on 5 August.

According to Mahalli, Syria made the proposals not on its own initiative but at the request of French President Nicolas Sarcozy, who after resumption of relations with Damascus tries to fortify his own position in the negotiations between Iran and West.

Given its new relations with Europe resulting from the Mediterranean summit in Paris, Syria wants to make use of the situation to consolidate itself at the international scene. According to Iran's independent expert Ahmad Seidabadi, that will help Assad to improve further relations with West, not losing its old friend Iran.

"Iran's nuclear program problem is most of all advantageous for Syria, since Damascus gains two partners in the region - Europe and Tehran," Seidabadi said to Trend in a telephone conversation from Tehran on 5 August.

According to Iranian expert Barati, Asad left for Iran not only for negotiations. He will try to interfere with Iran's policy. Syrian President took the chance to again assure Tehran of his intention to maintain the relations, in spite of Damascus's relations with the West and country's peace negotiations with Israel.

According to Arab expert Huzam, Damascus's policy to participate in the West-Iran problems turned to be unneeded, since Iran, in spite of its friendly relations with Syria, will never allow anybody to his country's domestic policy.

Huzam said Bashar al-Assad wants to interfere with the problem, as the issues being considered here are important for his country's economy.

"Asad knows it will be easy to enter other part of the Arab region, including Lebanon, through Iran without irrigation of the West," said Huzam.

Mahalli said Syrian President's refusal to act as intermediary was not caused by pressure from Iran. There are open and trust relations between the two countries. Both regimes stick to the same policy on Middle East, even despite Syria's warmer relations with the West.

According to Huzam, the current state of Iran-West relations, especially Iran-USA relations, must not be considered from one point of view.

"The result was expected, since the relations between the countries were tensed for a long period. Certainly, that impacts Syria but does not drastically change the situation," said Huzam.

The current problem with the Tehran-Washington relations is a result of unofficial war between the countries lasting for several years.

During the tenure of Syria's former President Hafez al-Assad, the two countries established firm economic and political cooperation. Therefore, since the Paris summit on 14 July, which gave an impetus to Syria-Europe relations, many experts have been supposing a break in the contacts between Iran and Syria. However, Asad's recent visit to Tehran destroyed all doubts. Syrian President's wish to assistant to Ahmadinejad in his relations with the West demonstrated how the two countries are loyal to their relations.

"The way out of the situation is in the hands of the United States alone. Even the Iranian Government cannot solve the problem independently," said Barati.

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