Another sign of a re-alignment of political strategy by Syria, Russia, and Iran after the collapse of the Geneva “peace” process: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is in Moscow for discussions on the Syrian crisis.
Abdollahian’s discussions with Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov come two weeks after the collapse of the US-Russia-UN effort for political talks, with stalemate in Geneva and Damascus’s insistence that President Assad will not leave power.
The Syrian regime is now emphasizing that “terrorists and extremists” can be defeated on the battlefield, while a political resolution comes through local “truces”. Russia backed up the strategy on Saturday with a statement denouncing the US and other countries for their support of an illegitimate Syrian opposition.
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani provided rhetorical support on Saturday:
After realizing that they cannot achieve their colonialist objectives in the region through support for dictators, arrogant powers began pretending to advocate democracy….
Colonialists are seeking to obstruct the establishment of genuine democracy in Muslim countries by using their financial power.
Confusion over Situation of Kidnapped Iranian Border Guards in Pakistan
The situation of five kidnapped Iranian border guards in Pakistan is unclear this morning.
The deputy head of armed forces, General Massoud Jazayeri, said on Saturday that the men — abducted on February 6 in southeastern Iran by the Sunni insurgency Jaish ul-Adl and then taken into Pakistan — had been released.
However, other Iranian officials pulled back the claim. The Ambassador to Pakistan said, “The release of Iranian border guards has not been verified by any official Pakistani source,” as “an informed diplomat” at the embassy said attempts to reach Pakistani officials had failed.
“The news circulated since Saturday afternoon was published by a Pakistani media and no Pakistani official confirmed it,” said he, and that “Iran’s embassy in Pakistan pursues the issue and awaits Pakistan’s response.”
Media reports said on Saturday that Pakistani security forces freed 11 foreign hostages, including eight Iranians and three Tunisians, in the southwest town of Turbat near the Iranian border. However, Pakistani officials later said the guards were not among the rescued hostages.
Jaish ul-Adl, which has carried out a series of attacks on Iranian forces since last summer, also denied the guards had been freed. It said the men would be tried by a “religious court”.