PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — “Iran needs to be part of our common efforts”
Russia has pushed back declarations by the Trump Administration that Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov countered on Monday that Tehran must be part of the anti-terrorist effort, linking to this to Iran’s political and military intervention — alongside Moscow — in support of Syria’s Assad regime:
Iran has never been seen having any ties with Daesh [the Islamic State] or [the Syrian jihadist] al-Nusra Front, or any other structure affiliated with these terrorist organizations and included in the relevant UN Security Council list.
I am convinced that if we have an objective approach toward potential participants of such a coalition, Iran, of course, needs to be part of our common efforts.
The Trump Administration launched a high-profile campaign last Wednesday over Iran’s ballistic missile testing and alleged support of extremist groups in states in the region.
The National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, said Tehran was “officially on notice”, a declaration echoed by Donald Trump. On Saturday, Defense Secretary James Mattis, during a visit to Japan, said the Islamic Republic was the “single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world”.
Trump followed on Sunday night in a televised interview with the assertion that Iran is “terrorist state number one”.
Despite the rhetoric, the Administration has held back from any indication that the US might leave the July 2015 nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, Russia, France, Germany, and China). Instead, the US Treasury announced that another 25 Iranian individuals and entities will be sanctioned over links to the ballistic missile program and the Quds Forces of the Revolutionary Guards.
The US has effectively been sidelined by Russia in the Syrian political process since last autumn, as Moscow has worked with Turkey and Iran for a nominal ceasefire — following Russia and Tehran’s essential role in the recapture of all of Aleppo city by pro-Assad forces — and talks in late January including the Assad regime and the opposition-rebel bloc.
The next set of discussions is scheduled for February 20 in Geneva.