Iraq’s Idea of a Transitional Government, Iran’s Solution of Negotiations
It seems that Lakhdar Brahimi relies on the role of regional players in containment of Syria's crisis more than Kofi Annan. What is your assessment of his regional actions so far?
At this stage, Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN’s special envoy to Syria, seeks to collect ideas and better understand the crisis in order to present his plan in the next stage. The issue of whether Brahimi intends to execute Kofi Annan's plan or not is not clear. But what can be interpreted from his statements is that he has his own plan for which more knowledge of the crisis and its effective players are needed. In order to understand the basis of his plan, we must consider that the crisis in Syria has three levels:
1. Domestic level
2. Regional level
3. International level
It seems that Brahimi seeks to reach an understanding in the region in order to find access to its domestic players and create discipline among its players. In other words, Iran has its own impact on Syria, with Turkey being effective with the opposition. Iraq, as an important regional player with common borders with Syria, can also be effective. Therefore, Lakhdar Brahimi has begun his regional mission in the hope of getting a more accurate picture and then entering Syria's domestic level.
During the past few days, the Quartet meeting to solve the crisis in Syria was held in Cairo. How do you evaluate the level of cooperation and similarities of ideas among members of this group?
Morsi's proposed contact group includes the four countries of Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are major supporters of the armed opposition, countries which even provide arms for them. Iran has good relations with the Syrian regime. Egypt, at the time being, is in the middle, meaning that it supports the opposition, but Morsi believes that the crisis in Syria must be solved on the basis of a political solution and not on the basis of overthrowing the government and conflict which could consequently affect the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Among the contact group members, the two countries of Iran and Egypt believe in a political solution and the other two believe in overthrowing the government. Therefore, Iraq's entrance into this equation can raise the chances of a political solution for Syria's crisis.
As president of the Arab League, Iraq intends to enhance its role. How would you assess this role?
Iraq is the president of the Arab League. At the same time, due to its insecure domestic conditions, it has not been able to find its former status in the Arab World. This country is very worried about the crisis in Syria, for the situation in Syria can have a great impact inside Iraq and cause more insecurity. The conditions of the Kurdish region of Syria can intensify the conditions of Iraq's Kurdish area. As you are well aware, right now, there are no friendly relations between the central government and the Kurdish region, and if these relations get worse, Iraq's integrity will be threatened. Therefore, Iraq has strong motivations to solve the crisis in Syria. Considering the fact that it is the president of the Arab League, its presence is totally justifiable and definable, because having common borders with Syria and being affected by the crisis in this country gives enough incentive to Iraq to enter this process.
How close are Iran's and Iraq's plans regarding Syria?
Iraq's plan discusses a transitional government and holding elections, but no details have yet been presented. This is while Iran's plan is based on the idea that the war has entered its attrition phase and none of the domestic players have the ability to turn events in their own interests, hence, they should return to the negotiating table. After the advisory meeting with regard to Syria, Iran has declared its readiness to prepare the negotiating table for all sides in Syria so they can have dialogue and end this crisis. Therefore, what Iran has proposed is dialogue and negotiations and what Iraq suggests is the idea of a transitional government. Nevertheless, although these two proposals are different from each other, they are not very distant either.