All Sides Must Engage in Talks to Find a Political Solution to Syrian Crisis

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on all sides involved in the Syria conflict to engage seriously in the negotiations aimed at finding a political solution to the deadly crisis in the Arab country.  

The top Iranian diplomat further pointed to “certain subversive attempts” that led to a halt in Syria talks earlier this month, stressing that “we are now at an important juncture and the negotiations need to be pursued seriously.”

Zarif further stressed that a solution to the Syria conflict has been overdue, adding that the “wrong policies as well as irrational, impractical and illegal preconditions” are to blame for a delay in reaching a solution to the crisis in the Arab country.

The senior Iranian official reaffirmed opposition to any foreign interference in Syria and said outsiders should only help facilitate a peace process in Syria.

“Western and regional countries should recognize the realities behind a joint full-fledged fight against extremism and sectarianism and work toward a logical solution to the Syria crisis,” he said.

Zarif also underlined the need for identification and differentiating of real opposition representatives from terrorists for the peace talks to bear fruit.

Iran’s Foreign Minister stressed the importance of pursuing a “political solution” to the Syria crisis, warning against entertaining “illusions” about the situation in the Arab country.

“I think what is important for everybody is to focus on a political solution and not on complicating factors particularly boasting about situations that are more illusions than reality,” Zarif said.

Zarif further said despite the agreements during the Syria talks in Munich, the sides faced “conceptual” disagreements.

“Whether some of the countries in the region continue to believe that these terrorist, extremist organizations constitute a bargaining chip for them, whether they can even provide short term advantage or whether they can wake up and see that these are threats first and foremost against them before they are even a threat against the rest of the region,” the Iranian foreign minister pointed out.

“But the agreement generally is to have a comprehensive humanitarian assistance and comprehensive cessation of hostilities which if implemented is a step in the right direction,” he said.

He added that there are currently “major challenges” to the Syrian issue because it would be “very difficult” to distinguish some of these organizations from “known terrorist and extremist organizations.”

“Everybody agrees that known terrorist and extremist organizations are not going to be a part of the ceasefire,” Zarif said.

The Iranian foreign minister reiterated the Islamic Republic’s stance, saying, “As I said, again, first and foremost it is important for everybody to realize that there is no military solution to the problem in Syria.”

“That terrorists and extremists are no leverage for anybody against others and everybody should cooperate and abandon the wishes that they could impose a solution on the Syrian people and should allow the Syrians and facilitate for the Syrians to engage in a negotiation to end this crisis,” Zarif added.

Zarif expressed hope that the outcome of the Munich meeting on the Syrian crisis will lead to a wise approach that would end the suffering of people.

“I hope that the Munich negotiations will lead to a wise solution through the acceptance of realities by those who have kept, with their illusions, the Syrian people in pain and suffering and killing and homelessness,” he said.

He also hoped that the meeting would manage to end the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Syria.

Iranian Foreign Minister also said a “zero-sum perspective” on regional issues will result in “total loss.”

“There is no lose-win game in our world today,” said Zarif. “Each one of us should accept certain principles and enter into dialogue.”

He called on regional countries to reconsider their “paradigms,” adding, “We have to change this paradigm. I can assure you. Iran is ready.”

Zarif said the countries in the region are facing “common threats” that are causing problems for “our brothers in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, even in Afghanistan and Central Asia.”

The Iranian minister also cited the “challenge of sectarianism” and said “that’s a threat to all of us.”

“We have a common opportunity, common challenges, common threats and a better future,” said Zarif.

He recommended countries in the region to “start redefining problems” and “set aside” their past differences instead of remaining “prisoner of the past.”

The Iranian foreign minister further pointed to Riyadh's decision to break relations with Tehran, saying the two countries must not follow a policy of mutual exclusion; however, Saudi Arabia has been seeking to eliminate Iran from political equations, including in the international negotiations on Syria.

"Iran and Saudi Arabia cannot exclude each other from the region," he said.

Zarif added that Tehran is prepared to cooperate with Riyadh to resolve regional issues.

"We are prepared to work with Saudi Arabia ... I believe Iran and Saudi Arabia can have shared interests in Syria," he said, adding, "We need to work together."

The Iranian Foreign Minister said the Syrian people must decide about the future of President Bashar al-Assad.

“A political solution will be possible with [the presence of] Assad. Neither we nor they [Saudi Arabia and the US] can make a comment in this regard,” Zarif said.

“A decision about the future of Syria must be taken by the Syrian nation. People have the right to express their views and this decision only rests with the Syrians,” he added. 

*Photo Credit: Alalam News Network

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