Why Kofi Annan Went to Tehran?
Monday, July 16, 2012
Expert on International Affairs
A recent visit to Iran by the United Nations-Arab League special envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan, and consultations he had about the situation in Syria with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, were all part of international efforts which are currently going on in order to resolve the crisis in Syria. This was the second official trip to Iran by Kofi Annan, who is joint representative of the UN and the Arab League, after his appointment to this post. In fact, Annan’s visit to Iran is “very important” and includes significant point which should be seriously taken into account. His Iran visit took place immediately following his two-day trip to Syria and constructive talks with the Syrian President Bashar Assad which helped the two sides to reach common views on the situation in Syria.
Kofi Annan’s Tehran visit per se is indicative of the fact that Iran is not only an “influential balancing weight” in the Syrian crisis, but also enjoys “key and determining” role in solving that crisis due to its friendly and strategic relations with the Syrian government which has made it a top partner of Damascus. In reality, Annan visited Iran while being fully aware that the Islamic Republic is a country which sways high “influence” in the Syrian political equation. He also knows that Iran can sway a high degree of influence on major regional players that are involved in the Syrian crisis. In addition, Tehran has very warm and cordial relations with domestic Syrian forces and officials in Damascus as a result of close ideological, strategic and geopolitical views on many issues. This became more evident when Tehran recently got in contact with domestic Syrian opposition groups. As a result, by taking advantage of such huge potential in its foreign policy, Iran can help to solve many of the existing problems in Syria. Therefore, Annan’s trip to Tehran and consultation with certain officials of the Islamic Republic, including Ali Akbar Salehi and Saeed Jalili can be considered a totally “purposive” and calculated development which includes many important points that should be taken into account here. It is noteworthy that Kofi Annan’s new post in Syria has been a totally Western “option” which was offered to Syria without prior consultation with Damascus to get the agreement of the Syrian government.
The performance of Annan in Syria, however, has proven that although he was a Western selection for containing the Syrian crisis, he has moved to the contrary of expectations of the Western countries – which sought to use hard and military options in order to subdue the Syrian crisis – and has chosen a path which has relative and sometimes deep contradictions with the goals and approaches of the Western states. As a result, the six-point plan which he offered to solve the Syrian crisis through peaceful mechanisms also took onboard the viewpoints of certain important regional players including Russia and Iran. In this way, it was proven beyond any doubt that despite having his Western mandate and agenda for solving the Syrian crisis and on the opposite to heartfelt wishes of the Western states, Annan is trying to use “Eastern,” Syrian, and software solutions to put an end to the domestic crisis with which Damascus is currently grappling.
It should be noted that Kofi Annan has more than half a century of background in the United Nations on its track records. For the first time, he was appointed director of budgeting for the UN-affiliated World Health Organization in 1962 and this was the beginning of his executive posts at the United Nations. During all that time, Annan has exhibited a personality which is totally democratic, civil, humanitarian, mild, and impervious to external influences in dealing with numerous international crises. That personality has been influential in bringing his views on the Syrian crisis close to those of Iran and Russia. In fact, this issue can be explained as such: Annan’s presence in Syria means that he is now moving along a continuous spectrum with two ends which are incompatible, conflicting and even contradictory. One end of this spectrum consists of Western – Arab axis which urges that the crisis in Syria should be contained through military intervention to force the incumbent President Bashar Assad to step down. In fact, this end of the spectrum will not be content with anything short of dismissal of Assad from power and transfer of the political system in Damascus to the domestic opposition. The second and opposite end of the spectrum includes regional and transregional players such as Russia, China, Iran and Iraq which seek to solve the Syrian crisis through diplomatic and “peaceful” solutions. They argue that all parties to the Syrian crisis should show self-restraint by accepting Annan’s peace plan which leaves no place for recourse to violence and bloodshed and the use of hardware-based measures.
Therefore, in view of the above facts, Kofi Annan has to deal with two different packages of ideas, notions, solutions and mechanisms in his effort to tackle the crisis in Syria. The first package includes issues which are highlighted by the Western – Arab axis such as the United States, France, UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. They are trying to contain the crisis in Syria by taking advantage of hardware-based mechanisms. The second package includes mechanisms which have been proposed by Russia, China, Iran and several other influential regional players which call for the use of diplomatic and peaceful methods to solve the ongoing crisis in Syria. In the meantime, since conceptual “ideas” in Annan’s mind are more compatible with Eastern solutions, he has been trying to bolster Iran's role in solving the Syrian crisis, so that, the situation in Syria will be resolved at the lowest possible cost. In fact, Annan’s Tehran visit per se is meant to convey this important message that Iran cannot be ignored in any effort which aims to solve the Syrian crisis. On the opposite, the country is an “indispensable component” of any solution to the Syrian crisis whose available capacities should be taken advantage of in the best possible manner. Of course, it should be noted that from the outset of his mission, Annan asked for Iran's presence in Geneva meeting which was held last week in the Swiss city within framework of the international contact group on Syria. Therefore, it should be also born in mind that Annan’s visit to Iran was also meant to make the world understand that absence of Iran in any meeting which is held to find a solution to the Syrian crisis will make that meeting not only incomplete, but also meaningless.
Key Words: Kofi Annan, Iran, Syria, Syrian Opposition Groups, Six-Point Plan, Hardware-Based Mechanisms, Diplomatic and Peaceful Methods, Khoshayand
Source: Mardomsalari Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review