Iran, EU officials to discuss Syria crisis in Brussels
Senior Iranian and European Union (EU) officials are set to meet in Brussels to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East, especially the crisis in Syria.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian left Tehran on Tuesday for the Belgian capital, Brussels, which hosts the EU headquarters, for the discussions.
Senior Iranian and EU officials are scheduled to exchange views later in the day over the crises in some Middle Eastern states, particularly Syria, which has been grappling with foreign-sponsored militancy since 2011.
Iran’s peace plan
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has proposed a four-point peace plan on the Syrian crisis. The initiative calls for a national unity government, a ceasefire, fighting terrorism and constitutional reforms in the violence-torn Arab nation, according to Zarif himself.
More than 250,000 people have lost their lives in the violence fueled by foreign-backed Takfiri groups. The Syrian army has been engaged in heavy battles against the extremist militants on many fronts across the country over the past four years.
Iran has on numerous occasions insisted that the Syrian crisis can only have a peaceful solution.
Failure without Iran
Two conferences were previously held in an attempt to resolve the Syrian crisis in the Swiss city of Geneva, one in 2012 and the other in 2014. Iran was not invited to the first one, and while the Islamic Republic did primarily receive an invitation to take part in the second Geneva conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later rescinded the invitation under pressure from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition.
Both conferences ended in failure.
In July 2015, the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura visited the Iranian capital, Tehran, as part of a series of trips aimed at holding consultations with regional countries on ways to stop the violence in the Arab country.
De Mistura had also traveled to Iran in late 2014.
On the ground in Syria
The Syrian army’s counter-terror fight has recently taken a new turn as Russia in late September responded positively to a request by Damascus and began providing air support to government troops by conducting air raids on terrorist positions.
Backed by Moscow’s anti-terror air raids, the Syrian army has in recent days made numerous gains on the battlefield against the Takfiri terror groups. However, that the Russian air raids have drawn criticism from Western governments and their regional allies, which have long been supporting the militants operating in the region.
The US and some of its allies have been pounding positions purportedly belonging to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a United Nations mandate since last September. The campaign has so far failed to dislodge the group, which has overrun about a third of the country.
‘Europe shifting focus’
Speaking to Press TV’s website on Tuesday on the prospective meeting between Iranian and EU officials, former CIA contractor Steven Kelly said, “I think what’s really important about this whole issue is the very fact that the EU is interested in having the Iranians involved.”
“The Europeans are definitely shifting their focus. Certainly, the United States pressure and ability to manipulate this group has suffered as a result of the involvement of Russia; and I think this is emboldening the Europeans to look for alternative partners in this process. So, I think on the surface this is very encouraging,” he added.
Kelly, however, warned that, “At the same time, I would like to hope that this is not a sign that this is some sort of an effort to divide and conquer and somehow drive a wedge between Iran and its ally, in this process Russia. Because obviously the fact that Russia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah and what have you are making such incredible progress shows that that is a very effective group and it’s only natural that the Europeans and… possibly even the Americans are going to do everything they can to either… infiltrate that or to somehow diminish it through side deals and with certain partners.”