The UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has visited Iran for talks, with the Islamic Republic holding out against any de facto partition of the country in its 77-month conflict.
Iran is also fending off pressure, notably from Israel, for removal of its forces and Iranian-led foreign militia from the country. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari told reporters after seeing de Mistura on Monday:
We are not trying to take anybody’s place.
Regional nations are in charge of their territories and will have control of their countries and the basic principle for the resolution of the crisis in Syria is letting people determine future of their country.
Iran supports the Assad regime in rejection of a federal Syria and any territory controlled either by the opposition or by Syrian Kurdish factions. However, Russia’s pursuit of “de-escalation zones” throughout the country has raised the prospect that the opposition will continue to hold much of northwest Syria, including almost of Idlib Province, and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) will head an autonomous region in parts of the north and northeast.
Jaberi Ansari insisted on Monday, “No other player can determine Syria’s fate because a basic principle since the beginning of crisis in Syria has been to oppose foreign intervention and imposition of conditions on the Syrian government and people, and Iran continues to follow up on its policies along the same line.”
The minister said there had been “serious and effective” talks with de Mistura as preparations are made for another round of political talks in Astana, Kazakhstan and in Geneva.
The discussions, held since January, have failed to bring any movement towards agreement between the main Syrian opposition and the Assad regime. But de Mistura is pressing for the opposition to include two smaller groups favored by Moscow.
De Mistura was also received by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.