Iran accepts invitation for Syrian peace talks in Vienna; a political shift that may present an acceptable outcome
Thursday, October 29, 2015: Iran has confirmed in a news conference that it will attend the new round of Vienna conference to talk on the issue of Syria. The acceptance of the invitation comes at a crucial point when both the United States and Russia are trying to determine solutions to the succession of Syrian President Bashar Al Asad and countering the growing threat of Islamic State in the region.
Russia broke the ice on Tuesday by sending an invitation to the Iranian government to join the Syrian peace talks that will discuss the possible succession options to Bashar Al Asad and the confrontation with the Islamic State, through both hard and soft power strategies. This invitation comes in the wake of an unsuccessful round of discussions that ended on Friday. The next round is scheduled for Thursday this week and Iran is expected to join on Friday.
The United States has not objected to the invitation that was sent by its counterpart in the international arena, which confirms that the US is open to all kinds of options in a bid to end a four-year long conflict. The increasing threat of ISIS in the region not only threatens stability in Syria and Iraq but could also potentially spread to other parts of the Middle East and may even end up finding its way inside Central Asia which is something Russia does not want to happen.
This radical approach, the second coming of Al-Qaeda in an even more irrational sense needs to be subdued and both Russia and Iran recognize that. In recent months, more and more Iranian volunteers have been reported killed in Syria according to Iranian media. The escalated situation needs a broader perspective for solutions and the lack of objection from the US is a promising sign.
The acceptance of the invitation has sent mixed signals in Iran where the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenie had recently said that any talks involving United States would not be entertained.
However, the Iranian news media is trying to justify both statements, from the Supreme Leader and the Iranian government. “Our leader has banned the bilateral relations between Iran and America or any negotiation aimed at resuming relations,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, a political analyst in Tehran considered close to the ayatollah. “Case-by-case negotiations or finding solutions for regional problems on a multilateral basis is all right.”
The participation of Iran in the Syrian peace talks has put its regional rival Saudi Arabia in a tighter position who already suspect, along with its close ally United States, Russia and Iranian backing of Bashar Al Asad. “The view of our partners … was that we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh.
Although Iran openly says that Bashar Al Asad should remain the president of Syria, it has been considering possible succession from the same Alvi sect, related to the Shia’a sect, behind the curtains. This back door diplomacy may come helpful in formulating a decision on the crisis acceptable to all parties.
The Iranian invitation comes just three months after the historic US-Iran nuclear accord, inked at the same venue that is playing host to Syrian peace talks.
United States Secretary General, Ban Ki-Mon has also welcomed Iran’s participation in the talks. A press release from his office said, “Countries that have influence over the Syrian parties need to be part of the discussion and, of course, this includes Iran.”