An international peace conference for Syria will begin on January 22. Will Iran take part in Geneva-2? Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said evasively that his country could take part if invited,
«If the Islamic Republic of Iran is invited to this conference with no preconditions, Iran will participate». The phantom thaw in the relations between Washington and Tehran and convincing attitude the Iranian diplomacy adopted at the nuclear talks did not sway the United States opposition to the Iran’s participation. Neither the support of the idea of Iran’s participation by Ban Ki-moon, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, nor the talks between Russian Foreign Minister with US State Secretary John Kerry, convinced the US administration that Tehran’s taking part in the event was expedient, the stance that could be viewed as a whim. Geneva-2 has a chance to be a success only if it offers vast representation, Iran exerts great impact on the situation in Syria. At that, being a leading player, it is kept away from the international crisis management process. It looks like a provocation against Iran on the part of Washington and an attempt to vex Moscow by declining the list of invitations it proposes… There are great doubts the conference will succeed without Iran taking part or its support for the crisis management process after the conference is over. Sergey Lavrov emphasizes that the upcoming January 22 event is a round of talks which will be launched to continue, not to start and end. The recent exchanged of views that was recently held in Moscow between Sergey Lavrov and Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as the recent tripartite Russia – Iran – Syria involving Syria Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, displayed the three countries common support for Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and equal rights of all ethnic and religious groups. There is no ground to talk about some kind of a three-party project, but the White House became jittery, it hates to stay on the sidelines. The last Walid Muallem’s visit to Moscow resulted in making public the Syrian initiative on chemical disarmament. Now the Smolenskaya Ploshad (Smolenskaya square is where the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located in Moscow) negotiation process is joined by Iranian foreign policy chief. John Kerry had a phone conversation with Sergey Lavrov who calmed him down, «We have nothing to hide, and we don't have any hidden agenda», he said. Moscow, Tehran and Damascus agree that the failure to convene Geneva-2 will result in people’s suffering and further exacerbation of the situation in the Middle East. The question is – what goal does the United States pursue by refusing to let Iran take part in the conference?
John Kerry agrees that Iran may have an important role to play in the Syria’s crisis management process, but only as an informal conference participant. The Western allies of the United States insist Iran abide by the guidelines defining the formation of Syria would-be interim government. They want Iran to call on Damascus to stop bombings and open a humanitarian corridor that would allow for the delivery of aid to refugees. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the conference would fail and would produce no result without Iran’s attendance, and noted that the United States was opposing the idea of inviting Iran. He stressed that Washington had not deviated from one-sided support for the opponents of Bashar Assad.
Indeed, this is the case when the United States happens to be in the same boat with the Syrian opposition which strongly insists Iran be excluded from the list of Geneva-2 participants because Tehran renders military and political support to the Syrian regime. Do the United States and its regional allies abstain from providing aid for Syrian militants in revolt against the government? What about the joint plan prepared by Russia and Iran related to Syria’s voluntary chemical disarmament preventing a combined military action of the United States of America, Israel, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Saudi Arabia against Syria?
At the same time neither Moscow, nor Tehran object to the participation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Geneva-2, no matter this country has challenged the international community many a time. Annoyed by doing away with the plans to conduct a military operation against Syria, Saudi Arabia stunned the world by rejecting a highly coveted seat on the Security Council, a decision taken as a protest action that underscored the depth of Saudi anger over what the monarchy sees as weak and conciliatory Western stances toward Syria and Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival. Riyadh is no more tolerant towards international initiatives on Iranian nuclear program. It openly calls for regime change in Syria and spares no money for arming the Syrian opposition. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has joined the ranks of most ardent enemies of Bashar Assad and his regime; it has become the main sponsor of terrorism in Syria. Doesn’t Saudi Arabia deserve sanctions imposed by the United Nations Organization and taking tough punitive actions against it like, for instance, the imposition of oil embargo by the United States and the European Union in the case of Iran?
At that, Riyadh does not appear to be afraid of negative reaction on the part of the United Nations. The royal family is sure that Washington and its European allies will turn a blind eye on whatever Saudi Arabia does in the region, at least for the reason of the United States of America and leading European powers’ interest in being involved in lucrative arms deals with Riyadh. For instance, US $60 billion Saudi arms deal. Saudi Arabia is expected to increase the arms procurement almost threefold with the United States as the chief supplier.
Aside from giant expenditure to enhance its armed forces, Riyadh is ready to arm other states of the region in exchange for their loyalty. For instance, Saudi Arabia promised $3 billion aid to the Lebanese military to procure arms from France. The European Union wants the embargo on arms supplies to the Syrian opposition be lifted as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plans to form two armies to wage wars of aggression against Syria and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia is hardly expected to be a constructive contributor to the peaceful management of Syria’s conflict. Riyadh has taken a decision to make its clients launch a direct military intervention against Syria. It will use the armies of mercenaries to achieve its plans. The first army with headquarters in Riyadh will be 50-75 thousand strong. It will recruit Saudi citizens to fill the top and rank and file positions. The second will enlist foreign mercenaries. 50 thousand strong at first, it will boost the strength twofold or even threefold in future. No matter all the international efforts going on, Saudi Arabia continues to use terror against the Bashar Assad’s government in Syria it wants to get rid of so much.
Today the global terrorist network is being reshaped. A great number of new, independent groups appear. Many of them get funds from the monarchies of the Persian Gulf. In the case of the United States of America and NATO it brings up the issue of revising the relationship with their traditional allies in the Middle East. It’s not about choosing between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but rather between terror and diplomacy or war and peace.