London, 29 Jan – Two days of talks have just taken place in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, regarding the Syrian civil war. Iran, Turkey and Russia participated in the talks which was basically all talk and no action.
Iran however declared the talks a success and highlighted the positive role it played in the past six years in Syria.
Unlike the United Nations-led Geneva process, the Astana talks only included a select number of participants.
The talks in Astana allowed Iran to show off its power and influence that is increasing. It also gave Iran a platform to assert its dominance in the political affairs of Syria and let it proceed with its regional ambitions.
For Iran, the main goal was to give legitimacy to Tehran and the Syrian dictator Assad. Heads of states and opposition groups were at the negotiating table with officials of the Iranian regime and Assad’s government. This meant that Syrian government forces and the Iranian regime were given legitimacy and allowed Assad’s delegates to be seen as official representatives.
A senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and head of the Expediency Council’s Center of Strategic Research, Ali Akbar Velayati, told reporters in the Iranian capital: “The Astana meeting showed that all sides, including Turkey and those groups, which follow this country and even countries not present there (in Astana), have acknowledged the Syrian government’s legitimacy either directly or indirectly.”
By ensuring that other Arab powers in the region, the United States and European countries were not involved in the talks, Iran was able to give the impression that no other states are affected by the direction the civil war in Syria goes.
Ironically, Iran agreed that a military solution is not possible for Syria hence the only way forward is to partake in a political process. However, there were no firm plans made at the talks. None of the parties signed a plan.
Iran has been heavily involved in the conflict in Syria and since it signed the Iran nuclear deal it has not hidden the fact that it has provided a large amount of military, financial, advisory, political and intelligence assistance to Assad. Iran claims that it has a presence in Syria to fight terrorism.
The Iranian regime wants a short-term ceasefire that will allow it to regroup between battles.
If Russia decides the way forward is to let a political transition happen in Syria, it is almost certain that Iran will not follow. Iran wants the war to continue at any cost. At the talks, Iran reasserted that it would stand behind Assad to strengthen him while keeping Tehran’s political ambitions on track.