Annan in Iran, Chasing the Mirage |
Al Hayat - 12 July, 2012
Author: Randa Takieddine
Kofi Annan's mission in Iran is one of chasing the mirage. It is a mission impossible in Iran. He will return with false promises, but he will have tried.
Annan believes that Iran can wield pressure on Syria, but even if this were true, Iran will not hand over this negotiating card to Annan for free. Why should Iran give this card to Annan? The Iranian regime wants a high price in return, and Annan cannot pay it. Iran's price is lifting the oil, financial and economic blockade, which is not within Annan's prerogatives.
Iran has constantly tried with P5+1 countries, which are negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, to tell these countries that it wants to talk about a solution for Syria. The P5+1 have rejected this Iranian maneuver.
Meanwhile, Iran has always offered France a chance to participate with it in solving the stalemate in Lebanon, when the political situation there becomes blocked. However, France has steadily rejected this option, because Iran is involved in destabilizing the region and offering its negotiation cards for bargaining.
Iran continues to have a strong card in Lebanon, with its ally Hezbollah. Like Russia, it is helping the Syrian regime, with weapons and equipment, to murder and oppress. Why does Annan imagine that the Iranian regime would agree to convince the Syrian regime to accept a political transition to a government containing members of the opposition, chosen by the opposition, while stripping Bashar Assad of his powers?
The Yemeni scenario does not apply to Syria. The tribe of President Ali Abdullah Saleh abandoned him, while Bashar Assad is receiving Annan as his forces continue, with all of their equipment, to murder, oppress and torture.
Russia remains committed to Assad, even though its interests dictate that it should support the Syrian people, and not a regime that is destined to disappear. For one thing, a president who kills half of his people, and who uses more force and killing whenever the international pressure is stepped up, cannot remain in power.
Assad cannot remain in power after some 15,000 people have been killed, with the number growing every day, amid the savagery of oppression and torture. Those who are pessimistic about Assad's departure point out that the civil war in Lebanon lasted for more than a decade. However, international conditions have changed. There was a Syrian-Israeli plan to get rid of Yasser Arafat and turn Lebanon over to Syria, with the agreement of international powers.
Now, Russia is no longer a superpower; it is weak, but strong with its Security Council veto. It wants to demonstrate this power to emerging countries, such as China, India, South Africa and the like. But conditions in Syria and the rise in killing will change the domestic equation, especially when the regime lacks the money to pay to its forces to kill.
Iran's financial conditions do not permit it to give Syria huge sums, especially because the oil embargo and the difficulty of financial transactions to purchase oil are reducing Iran's revenues considerably.
Meanwhile, Russia has stuck to its stance, so how can it have a say in the Syria of the future? Many western officials have begun to see a change in the Russian position, which might be a sign of their optimism and hopes.
There is now a discussion taking place of a draft resolution in the Security Council, involving consultations among France, Britain and the United States. It was discussed by French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron this week, in placing the six-point Kofi Annan Plan under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would require the use of force or more sanctions if it is not carried out. Paris, Washington and London do not want to use force, but sanctions. It will be a difficult and prolonged process to see the pressure of sanctions halt the killing and force Assad's departure.
Speculating about how long the latter could take is difficult, but it is also difficult to imagine that after all of the murder, oppression and torture, Assad can remain, and return to the international community, of which more than half has ostracized him and asked for his departure.