Despite signing an agreement with Russia and Turkey to establish four “de-escalation zones” in the 73-month Syrian conflict, Iran’s regime is being very reserved about the development.
On Thursday, a Russian proposal was signed by Moscow and Tehran — both essential backers of the Assad regime — and by Turkey, which has been a supporter of elements of the Syrian opposition since the uprising began in March 2011. The Syrian opposition objected to the initiative, both because of Iran’s role as a guarantor and because of the prospect of a partition of Syria leaving President Assad in power.
However, Iran’s English-language media ignore the news. The Persian-language version of Tasnim has only a brief, dry report, and State outlet IRNA summarizes UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s expectations for a proposal but not the agreement itself.
In contrast to Russian envoy Alexander Lavrientev’s enthusiastic proclamation of the proposal, there is no reported statement from the Iranian delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari. Nor has the Iranian Foreign Ministry offered any response.
Tehran’s reticence may be because of its objections to a partition of Syria. Iran would prefer an agreement in which all of the country remained under the Assad regime.
Russia has also opposed a long-term division of Syria. However, it has been more cautious about a federal resolution, particularly as it courted the support of Syrian Kurdish factions who would have autonomy under such an outcome.
Moscow has also shown signs of distancing itself from Assad. Russian officials have privately said that they are not committed to Assad’s personal future as head of the country, and President Vladimir Putin pointed noted for the first time this week that the Syrian people are “divided” over the prospect.
TOP PHOTO: Iranian representative Hossein Jaberi Ansari (back, left) looks on as Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev signs the Russian-Turkish-Iranian proposal for “de-escalation zones” in Syria