Syrians should decide Assad’s future role: Iran FM


Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed any foreign meddling in Syria’s internal affairs, saying the political future of President Bashar al-Assad must be decided by Syrians themselves rather than the outsiders.

Zarif made the remarks in an interview with the American magazine The New Yorker, which was published on Friday.

“Tehran believes it’s none of our business or anybody else’s to decide the future of personalities in other countries,” Zarif said in response to a question regarding President Assad, emphasizing that both Tehran and Moscow share the same view on the issue.

The remarks came on the same day that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a resolution to endorse an international bid to end the nearly five-year-long crisis in Syria.

Under the resolution, Syrian peace talks on a transitional government should begin in early January, a “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian” government should be established in Syria within six months and UN-supervised “free and fair elections” should be held within 18 months.

Touching on the peace process in Syria, the top Iranian diplomat said there are two separate tracks to ensure that the procedure will go on.

“One track is for the Syrian government and the opposition that is interested in a peaceful future of Syria to come together for national unity, for the political process.

“At the same time, it is a requirement for everybody to stop supporting the extremist groups, to stop allowing them safe passage, to stop allowing them to receive weapons, to stop allowing them to receive financial assistance, and to come together in actually fighting them,” he said.

Asked about the presence of Iranian military advisers in Syria, Zarif said the move shows the Islamic Republic’s seriousness in fighting the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

“We consider ISIS (Daesh) and extremism to be a threat to all of us in the region… Our position is that we help the legitimate governments in the region that have representation in the United Nations. … We help the Syrian government on their request to help with advisers to fight extremists. . . . So it’s both lawful and legitimate,” he added.

Boys search for firewood amid the rubble of damaged buildings in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, November 26, 2015. ©Reuters

In an article published by British daily The Guardian on Friday, Zarif said preconditions concerning the conflict in Syria “do not represent the wishes of the Syrian people; rather, they reflect the agendas of outside actors, none of whom have the right to impose their will on an independent nation.”

The US and its allies in the Middle East are supporting militants in Syria in a bid to topple Assad, branding his government undemocratic.

Since March 2011, Syria has been beset by foreign-backed militancy, which has so far claimed the lives of over 250,000 people and displaced millions of others.

Zarif said, “It is utterly absurd that those who have denied their own population the most rudimentary tenets of democracy, such as a constitution and elections, are now self-declared champions of democracy in Syria.”

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