Political Deadlock in the Syrian File

Iran Should Attempt to Impact Negotiations

26 September 2012 | 16:04 Code : 1907280 Interview General category
An interview with Seyyed Morteza Nematzadeh, Iran’s former cultural attaché in Syria
Iran Should Attempt to Impact Negotiations


The Syrian Prime Minister has stated that they are close to the end of the crisis. To what extent do the conditions on the ground confirm this matter?

I believe that the assumption that the Syrian crisis is near its end, is somehow exaggerated. The crisis in Syria is so complex that the government of Syria cannot decide by itself to end it successfully. But it seems that positive signs are being seen at regional and international levels indicating that bright horizons have been created compared to the past. 

How would you assess the meeting of Syria's domestic opposition groups with representatives from Iran, China, and Russia? To what extent, in your opinion, is the agreement made in this meeting based on the peaceful pursuit of the opposition's demands enforceable?

It seems that the meeting of domestic opposition groups is a positive step in solving the crisis in Syria. But it should be noted that this step will not be a determining step, for the Syrian crisis has gone beyond national dimensions and found regional and international dimensions as well. Therefore, the solution to this crisis must address all these three dimensions. Or, if a horizon is opened in any one of them, it should have the ability to impact the other two.

At the present time, it seems that regional talks have begun, an example of which was the quartet meeting in Cairo. Domestically, this is the second meeting that political opponents of the Syrian regime have held, proposing dialogue as a solution. This is a positive path. But, at the international level, it seems that not much development has been made; unless we say that the US is, on one hand, involved in the election process and, on the other hand, the insult to the world of Islam has caused public mobilization against this country causing a new atmosphere to rule the region and the protests are aimed at the most important international player of the world, i.e. the US. That is why the issue of Syria, at the present time, is temporarily not the top priority. But this situation will not be permanent; unless influential parties use the present situation and direct the domestic crisis of Syria towards peaceful solutions.

To what extent, do you believe, does the external opposition agree with this trend?

I believe that the external opposition, based on its dependence on regional and international foreign powers, cannot independently decide on this matter. Therefore, until the opinion of regional and international powers about the method of solving the crisis in Syria does not change, it cannot be expected that the external opposition changes its position either. An important point which should be considered in Syria's developments is that the element of people is absent in them. Unfortunately, civil war has prevented the people from being present in the scene and from voting for one of the parties and showing their impact. Nevertheless, if the atmosphere is created for the people's role, then it can be hoped that the crisis in Syria will be solved and the people will have a determining role.

What is the people's role in the plan proposed by Mr. Morsi?

The details of this plan have not yet been made public to show whether the people's presence is guaranteed in it. Therefore, it is not clear if this issue has been considered in Mr. Morsi's plan. But, in general, the existence of a dialogue among regional parties is a positive step, because different parties had set preconditions for dialogue before. That is to say that Syria's armed opponents considered dialogue based on the removal of Bashar Assad and the precondition of supporters of the regime was the presence of Bashar Assad. These preconditions prevented the talks from starting. Right now, these talks have begun with no precondition, which is a positive point.

Lakhdar Brahimi is supposed to explain the situation in Syria in a report to the UN General Assembly. What is your prediction regarding this report and what is the role of Lakhdar Brahimi in the international process of the Syrian crisis?

In general, Lakhdar Brahimi is faced with the same problems that Kofi Annan was confronted with. It does not seem that there is a different horizon now. It can only be said that Lakhdar Brahimi is a personality who is more knowledgeable about regional issues and has more expanded relations, which could create more suitable grounds. But it does not seem that his problems will be less than Kofi Annan's. It is expected that there will be international and regional support for the report which will be presented by Lakhdar Brahimi. 

Could this report be used as the basis of action for the Security Council?

I believe that no changes have been made in the policy of the international players in the Syrian crisis. Therefore, we should not expect to have a plan which will be agreed upon by all parties. Of course, a plan like the Geneva Plan achieved the agreement of all the involved parties but there was no determination for its enforcement. Therefore, it seems almost impossible that a practical result will be achieved by this report. 

How would you evaluate Iran's role in containing the crisis in Syria?

It seems that the conditions which have been created in the region give Iran an opportunity to be effective in a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. I feel that, considering the negative consequences of Turkey's interventions in Syria, it is now ready to review its policies and distance itself from the opposition and adopt more appropriate policies. Therefore, it seems that the conditions are better now compared to the past. The Arab regimes must especially be responsive to their people with regard to the insult to Muslims' beliefs and their attitude towards the US which is the most important player in the crisis in Syria. Therefore, I believe that conditions at the present time are to the benefit of Iran and the Resistance Movement. Iran should be active in impacting the process. 

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