Syria peace talks might breed conflict between two of the world’s greatest powers after Iran was excluded from the Montreux discussions. Although the pact between over 40 countries that occupy a chair in the current UN discussions in Switzerland has been set up between the United States and Russia, the two super powers are now in opposite camps.
While Russia is one of Syria’s biggest supporters along with Iran, the U.S. stands by the Syrian Opposition’s decision to exclude the Islamic Republic from peace talks. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to take part in the discussions that could convince the Syrian government and the opposition to reach a consensus, but withdrew his invitation. David Cortright, director of policy studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies considered the Secretary General’s decision to exclude Syria’s ally from the peace talks “a huge diplomatic mistake.” Cortright also mentioned that Iran could be the UN’s only chance to bring Syria to the discussion table and reach a conclusion.
Syria peace talks started to breed conflict between the walls of the meeting room when the decision of the UN Secretary General was loudly criticized by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Iran’s absence from Geneva II talks was defined by Lavrov as “a unforgivanable mistake” and “a profanation.”
On Monday, Lavrov emphasized Iran’s key role in the Syrian conflict and mentioned that it is one of the countries with a direct interest in helping Syria solve its problems. Plenty of countries agreed that the Islamic Republic’s involvement is essential in the current political process and the role of the of the UN is to “find a way to involve Tehran in Syria talks.”
Today, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is meeting with each Syrian delegation in order find out if the two sides can agree on humanitarian aid, prisoner exchange and a cease-fire. Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, also tried to solve the conflict by proposing a new election in Syria which will undoubtedly be respected by the people who have been living in a war zone for the past three years.
Syrian peace talks started on a calm note, but the atmosphere grew more tense when Secretary of State John Kerry held the Syrian government responsible for the country’s unstable political situation and mentioned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should not be a part of the country’s future. The chemical attack that left hundreds dead in the outskirts of Damascus in August 2013 was characterized by Kerry as “undeniable” and “moral obscenity.”
The peace talks during Geneva II regarding Syria’s current situation sparkled discussions that could breed conflict. When Kerry concluded that the act of leading must not walk hand in hand with torture, barrel bombs or Scud missiles, Lavrov challenged the U.S. representative to “refrain from any attempt to predetermine the outcome of the process.”
Syria peace talks will continue after Brahimi’s encounter with each Syrian delegation, but for now the discussions breed conflict between the nations sitting at the table. As Swedish Foreign minister Carl Bildt mentioned, negotiations should include any nation which can change the course of the conflict for the better. He also emphasized the right thing to do in his view, namely “to make peace between enemies” and not “between friends.” Bildt admitted that both Iranian and Russian support are part of the solution to Syria’s problems.
By Gabriela Motroc