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Iran FM: Syria ceasefire as ‘major achievement’

30 December 2016 17:02

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Iran’s foreign minister has praised the Syria-wide ceasefire deal, brokered by Russia and Turkey, as a “major achievement” on the diplomatic front, saying the world must now work to target terrorism at the roots.

“Ceasefire in Syria is a major achievement. Let’s build on it by tackling the roots of extremist terror,” said Mohammad Javad Zarif on a post on his Twitter page on Thursday.

The remarks came after the Syrian army announced a nationwide ceasefire, which took effect at midnight, adding that the deal does not apply to the Takfiri Daesh and Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) terror groups as well as their affiliates.

The countrywide ceasefire came one week after the Syrian army announced full control over Aleppo when the last remaining militants were evacuated along with civilians from the eastern sector of city under a truce deal mediated by Ankara and Moscow.

On Thursday, Zarif discussed the truce with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the phone. The two sides agreed for Tehran and Moscow to hold constant consultations in preparation for the upcoming peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The top Iranian diplomat also elaborated on his thoughts about ways of tackling terrorism and extremism in an essay titled How to Handle the Enabling Conditions for Extremism and Terrorism, published in The Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs biannual political analysis publication.

In the article, he said the blame game between the West and the East does nothing to eradicate the “twin problems of terrorism and extremism,” calling for “genuine cooperation” among world countries to confront the “cancerous phenomena.”

Zarif emphasized the need for the international community to get rid of terrorism and extremism “as effectively as possible,” saying the two challenges “are neither confined to any part of the world, are exclusive to one religion, nor can they be combated on a regional basis and then only through heavy reliance on military hardware.”

“It is easy for us in West Asia to blame the West as the ultimate culprit in our problems…Simultaneously, it has been even more convenient for the West to blame us – Muslims in the West Asia region – irrespective of our divergence, disagreements and even disputes and conflicts,” he said.

Zarif further wrote, “Finger-pointing in both directions, and within the region, is perhaps the easiest diversion for everybody. But this is neither accurate nor helpful, as our world has become far more complicated than ever before.”

Another refutable approach, Zarif said, was the adoption of “myopic views of a complex situation” and “shortsighted self-serving policies.”

As an example, Zarif pointed to statements by the national security advisor of a major regional state who has said “extremists and the Syrian forces will destroy each other on the battlefields of Syria.”

“Simplistic scenarios” such as assuming that there was a “direct relationship” between dictatorship and extremism, and that “democracies do not fight each other” formed a third myth, which had to be avoided towards tackling terror at its root.

“While there is some truth to it, the actual situation we face today is more complex than the statement would indicate, and defies convenient explanations,” he added.

Zarif also called for “honest soul-searching” on the part of all components of the international community towards eliminating the reasons behind a rise in extremist inclinations among youths in every society.

Some of the root causes are “marginalization, disenfranchisement, and disrespect” facing minorities, according to Zarif.

Another highlight in the piece was the official’s reasserting that the ex-communicative approach adopted by “Takfiri groups” had “nothing to do with the genuine, original message of Islam – as reflected in the Book and in the Prophet’s tradition.”

He finally called on all parties to perceive terrorism and extremism as “as a common predicament…not one confined to a certain region, race, religion, or sect.”

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