London, 05 Apr – Iran, Russia, and Turkey sat down for a meeting about Syria’s future on April 4, but the US wasn’t there, despite its role supporting the rebels in the Syrian Civil War.
This creates a massive problem, because Iran, Russia, and Turkey, have very different interests in Syria and experts say that this looks more like a PR exercise than a serious effort to bring about peace.
Iran, for instance, is a long time supporter of Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad and has a vested interest in seeing him remain in power. They have two main reasons for this; thinking that quelling the Syrian people’s uprising will dampen the Iranian people’s desire for regime change and believing that they will be able to turn Syria into another Iranian vassal state in the Middle East.
That’s why Iran has been sending its Revolutionary Guards Corps(IRGC) to train militias that will fight on behalf of Assad. However, the high death toll has meant that Iran is now recruiting its militias from refugees and children.
Russia is a supporter of both Syria and Iran; having aided Iran economically and helped the country’s malign nuclear programmes.
Turkey doesn’t support the Syrian dictator and is on the opposite side to Iran and Russia on this and many other policies.
The US, a supporter of the Syrian people and enemy of the Iranian Regime, has complicated relationships with both Russia and Turkey, but given its interests in Syria, it should have been at the meeting.
Could it be that Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have formed a triangular alliance of convenience to exclude the US from these talks?
Mark Katz, a Middle East scholar at George Mason University, said that all three parties appear to like the idea that they’re making policy decisions independent of the US.
However, the truth is that for peace in Syria, all parties need to be at the negotiating table. The US may also act as a stabiliser for the three parties.
The last meeting between the three countries, in November, has accomplished almost nothing and Syria has continued using chemical weapons on its own people, despite international condemnation.
Pierini, a scholar at Carnegie Europe, notes that any lasting peace agreement will need input from the US and Europe. Otherwise Iran, Russia, and Turkey could well make the situation worse by targeting the Syrian Kurds, who are working with the US, as the Kurdish population want independence in the Middle East.