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MOSCOW, October 29. /TASS/. Iran’s invitation to the Vienna talks on a settlement in Syria, also involving the United States, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is a clear success of Russia’s diplomacy, although its real effects may not be immediately clear, polled experts on oriental affairs have told TASS.
A second meeting on Syria between Russian and US foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry, is beginning in Vienna on Thursday, with Turkish and Saudi Arabia’s representatives taking part. Multilateral format negotiations are due on Friday. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will participate in the negotiations for the first time. The other participants are delegates from a number of European and Middle East countries and the head of the European Union’s diplomacy Federica Mogherini.
Until just recently Riyadh had been opposed to Teheran’s presence at the talks, although US President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly session it might be possible to invite Iran to join the process of settlement in Syria.
"Moscow has once again demonstrated its influential diplomatic role in the Middle East, backed up by the operation of Russia’s air group in Syria against the terrorist Islamic State," the leading research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Georgy Mirsky, has told TASS. "Moscow managed to push through its demand for Iran’s participation in the Syrian settlement talks. The United States and Saudi Arabia finally agreed to make this concession."
Russia’s veteran expert on veteran affairs, Mirsky believes that Washington agreed to take a milder line in relations with Tehran under the influence of the recent comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. "Very soon the United States and other Western countries will lift the economic sanctions from Iran and restore diplomatic relations with it. Teheran’s invitation to the Vienna talks on Syria is the first step along these lines," Mirsky said.
"However, as soon as the negotiators meet in Vienna in the wider format, there will be no way of sidestepping a discussion of Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s future, a hitherto insurmountable obstacle. Moscow and Tehran may disagree with Washington, Riyadh and Ankara, which claim that Assad must go. Syria’s Alawites will permit his dismissal under any circumstance. They account for 12% of Syria’s population and ruled the country for nearly half a century. If Assad steps down, the entire system of government will collapse. The Alawites will not let this happen," Mirsky said.
He is certain that the diplomats from various countries around the world will exert every effort to ensure the process of negotiations should go on. "They surely have hopes for success, because hopelessness is a road sign pointing the way to the cemetery," Mirsky said.
The President of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, too, believes that Washington’s consent to invite Tehran to the Syrian settlement talks is Russia’s diplomatic victory. "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has played the lead, when he came up with the idea of letting Iran have a say in deciding Syria’s future. Washington responded to that initiative, because the United States in the current situation has nothing against flirting with Iran in order to mend trading and economic relations with it after the abolition of sanctions," Yevgeny Satanovsky told TASS.
"However, imagining that Iran and Saudi Arabia may suddenly present a common front in the course of negotiations on Syria is not even laughable. It is absurd. The civil war in Syria was triggered for the sole purpose of ousting Iran — the main adversary and opponent of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East," Satanovsky said.
"In Vienna, there may follow a prolonged verbal duel over Syria’s future, while some routine events will proceed at the grass-roots level. There is a possibility Assad’s government army will conclude peace with moderate Islamists in the confrontation with the Islamic State. Syria may close the border with Turkey, from where the terrorists are getting supplies and support. There may be a turn in the tide of war against the Islamic State. But a final solution of the Syrian crisis is still far ahead."
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