Attempts to Sway Russia’s Syria Policy Failed

Attempts to Sway Russia’s Syria Policy Failed Attempts to Sway Russia’s Syria Policy Failed

The trilateral Iran-Russia-Syria meeting in Moscow on Friday was a big success for their strategic anti-terror alliance, as it showed efforts to detach Russia from its Middle East allies were in vain, a lawmaker said.

"The US tried hard in recent months to force a change in Russia's foreign policy, particularly on Syria ... But the trilateral meeting confirmed once again that Moscow has no intention to change its Middle East strategy," Abolfazl Hassanbeigi also told ICANA on Saturday.

Russia has closed ranks with Iran in recent years, partly because they have been both the target of western sanctions, Iran over its nuclear program and Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

Their convergence of interests in Syria, which has been the scene of foreign-backed militancy aiming to topple the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011, has further strengthened their bonds of friendship.

The coordination meeting in Moscow was attended by Iran's top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and his Russian and Syrian counterparts, Sergey Lavrov and Walid al-Muallem respectively.

Russia's involvement in Syria has not been welcomed by the US and its western and Middle East allies, which are fanning the flames of the conflict by supplying weapons to militants.

In recent months, the Russian capital has hosted a flurry of international visits by diplomats from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, the US and some other countries, in part aimed at convincing Russian leaders that their current role in Syria and their partnership with Tehran will not be to their benefit.

As recently as last Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a meeting of the G7 nations in Italy that Russia must choose between partnering with the United States or Iran.

"We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role," Tillerson said. "Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group [Iran and Syria], which we believe is not going to serve Russia's interests in the long run."

  Russian Thinking

On Russia's foreign policy thinking, Hassanbeigi said, "Russia really feels the threat of [the spread of] terrorism and the [self-styled] Islamic State [terrorist group] in the region, and its officials know that any change in their Syria stance works in terrorists' favor, resulting in a greater possibility of terror attacks inside Russia".

Hassanbeigi said multi-polarity is on the rise across the world and partnership between Russia and Iran, a very big regional power and an important international player, will deliver huge benefits to both.

"The US is in no good conditions and its global status has been further damaged by Donald Trump's presidency. The world public opinion is against US actions in the region, including its recent missile attack on Syria and its support for terrorists [in Syria]," he said.

The trio gathered under the same roof following an April 4 chemical incident in Syria's Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Governorate and the subsequent April 7 US strike at an airbase in Homs Governorate.

The US said its strike was in response to what it believed was a chemical attack by the Syrian government against its own people in Idlib.

It came despite the Syrian Army's denial that it used chemical weapons and said the Idlib incident, which left dozens of gas-poisoned people dead, happened after a Syrian warplane hit an unknown cache of chemical agents held by foreign-backed militants.

After their trilateral meeting, the three countries said the US attack was an act of aggression and called for independent investigations into the chemical incident and also into the US missile strike.

"We call on the US and its allies to respect Syria's sovereignty and refrain from actions similar to what happened on April 7, which have serious ramifications not only for regional, but also global security," Lavrov said in a joint press conference.

Lavrov also said Washington was seeking "excuses for regime change" in Syria, but "we will not allow the peace process to be disrupted".

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