Iran's Invitation to Syria Talks: Requirements and Necessities for Returning to Iran's Option

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

At last and after years of negation and practical overlooking of Iran's role in building security in the world, the United States and the Western front have officially invited Iran to take part in the forthcoming talks on the civil war in Syria, which are scheduled to be held in late October 2015. This invitation that comes under conditions that the West has been checkmated following Russia’s military intervention in Syria, which started in late September 2015 for taking practical part in Syria crisis, must be considered as another achievement for Iran's foreign policy, especially following the conclusion of the Iran deal. Requirements and necessities related to inviting Iran for taking part in such meetings and conferences confirm that both the Western and Eastern fronts are returning to Iran's option and are recognizing Iran's regional role under new conditions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

At the level of political elites in Iran, such news and invitations are not considered as an extraordinary or especially important affair. Iran had been already invited in this regard, with an invitation extended to Tehran by Staffan de Mistura in April 2015 being an example. However, the recent invitation is reminder of Iran's position in important global developments during the past few centuries. Throughout a few centuries of geopolitical and geostrategic games at international level, Iran has enjoyed increasing importance and its national interests have been in most cases a bargaining chip among big powers in dealings related to relations and interests of those big powers. Iran's position in the big game of Caucasus and Central Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries and its role as a bridge to victory for the allied countries during World War II have been among the most important signs of the importance of this country in management of international affairs in the past two centuries.

Following World War II, Iran was considered as the United States’ strategic ally in the south of the former Soviet Union, which was used by Washington to fight against Communism and enforce its strategic limitation policy toward the Soviet Union. During the time period from 1945 to 1979, apart from the short period when Dr.

Mohammad Mosaddeq was Iran's prime minister (1951-1953), Iran gradually and slowly turned into the United States strategic ally within the international system. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 turned strategic relations between Iran and the United States into strategic hostility and actions taken by the Western coalition to manage Iran prompted the country to take actions in its peripheral regions, including in the Middle East, the Mesopotamia, the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and the Levant, as a result of which the scope of Iran's strategic influence in the Middle East has been deepening on a daily basis. The Western coalition has been in the meantime trying to make the most of Iran's relative advantages in order to manage challenging issues in the Middle East, an example of which is inviting Iran to take part in Syria talks, which are slated for late October 2015.

Among requirements for the success of participation by Iran in any possible negotiations on Syria one can mention strategic and political action to show goodwill and cooperative intentions, recognition of the regional role of Iran, allowing all invitees to play a role on equal standing, intra-Syrian nature of the talks, and practical negation of the role of radical opposition groups in the future political process of Syria. In the meantime, the experience of the civil war in Syria shows that the civil war in Syria is not simply a domestic crisis, but an international strategic crisis whose resolution does not simply depend on domestic trends and actors inside Syria. The resolution of Syria crisis depends on due attention to anarchic structure of international system and other strategic crises such as the crisis in Russia’s relations with the United States and the European Union, the Ukraine crisis, the crisis in Iraq and the crisis in Yemen, in parallel to which intra-regional dialogue among Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as intra-Syrian solutions that would be accepted by domestic forces in Syria must be encouraged.

Some actors in the Middle East have believed for many years that maintaining stability in the Middle East depends on promotion and expansion of regional cooperation. Participation or lack of participation of influential regional powers in Syria talks would depend on commitment combined with goodwill of the Western and Eastern fronts to requirements and necessities of Iran's presence in these talks. Inattention to the requirements and necessities of Iran's participation or non-participation in any possible dialogue or negotiation on Syria will in no way help efforts that are aimed to find a sustainable solution to end the civil war in Syria crisis.

Key Words: Iran, Invitation, Syria Talks, Requirements, Necessities, Iran's Option, Security, United States, Western Front, Middle East, Civil War, Strategic Crisis, Resolution, Russia, European Union, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Intra-Syrian Solutions, Khoshandam

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*Photo Credit: The Hill