Vladimir Yevseyev: The absence of Iran at the negotiating table of "Geneva 2" will, in fact, be the "failure" of settlement of Syrian crisis


Author: Interview by Daria Melikhova exclusively to VK


Director of the Center for Public Policy Research Vladimir Evseev in an interview to Vestnik Kavkaza spoke about the latest diplomatic moves in the settlement of the Syrian crisis and preventing civil war in the country. In his view, the absence of Iran at the negotiating table of "Geneva 2" will, in fact, be the "failure" of the peace talks. He said that Iran has the largest impact on the situation in Damascus, so it must be directly involved in the decisions of the conference. These and other regional issues were touched upon by the expert in his interview to VK.


VK: What might the result of "Geneva-2" be?


Vladimir Yevseyev: I think we should start with modest results. It may be possible to involve some circles of the opposition. I would like to involve not only the opposition which delivers pro-Western views or is supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It would be good to involve the opposition from Syria, coordinating committees, some other structures. Because in this case, if the conference will present only one side of the opposition, their solutions simply will not be carried out on the territory of Syria. And from this point of view, perhaps, a certain unification of the opposition, which is now incredibly fragmented, could be the greatest achievement. Although it should not be expected that the Syrian problem will be solved. A very big problem is that there are a lot of external sponsors. Probably between the sponsors there could be some kind of agreement, the so-called "red lines" that cannot be crossed. For example, I believe that we can agree that none of the external sponsors initiates the supply to Syrian territory of chemical weapons or their use in Syria. Because it would be complete nonsense, it would completely undermine any credibility to external funders regarding a potential resolution of the crisis.


In addition, the external sponsors could somehow agree to limit their financial support in order to reduce the bloodshed in Syria, and focus more on the delivery of humanitarian aid. Moreover, humanitarian assistance should be provided not only to refugees, who are now very numerous outside of Syria. The assistance must be given within Syria itself, where so many people are suffering from a lack of basic necessities, where fighting has been going on for a third year and where people are just tired of endless war. These people, too, need help, and it is useless to look only at aid, for example, in Turkey or Lebanon. Nevertheless, at the same time, if we talk about external countries, probably the largest aid is from Jordan, a small country, where there is a huge number of refugees.


BK: Please tell us why Iran is not invited to the “Geneva-2" conference.


VY: France strictly opposes its presence. I think that it is not officially stated, but the same position is supported by the United Kingdom. Some European countries believe that it is necessary to invite Iran, but just for sitting at the negotiating table without the right to vote. I think this devalues the invitation of Iran to the negotiating table. Iran must be connected to the solution to the problem, because now, when viewed objectively, Iran has a very strong influence on the government in Damascus. This support is, firstly, an economic one. Nobody else helps Damascus more than Iran. Russia, unfortunately, has distanced itself from this. Secondly, we can talk about aid in the delivery of various essential goods that are needed in Syria, largely through the territory of Iraq. Thirdly, we need to talk about the fact that Iran has provided some military assistance. From this point of view, the ban on the Iranian presence at the negotiations is essentially the failure of the talks in Geneva. I regard this that way and I believe that Iran has to sit at the negotiating table, and should be involved in decision-making. I would like to recall that Iran is holding a conference for the second time in the last six months, which brings together representatives of various oppositions. This conference is being held in Tehran. The Iranian experience in this regard, probably, should also be used, because Iran is also trying to somehow unite the opposition. Even from this point of view, the absence of Iran at the negotiating table will not be constructive and not will contribute to the achievements and results that caould be reached in the course of these negotiations.


VK: Please tell us about the relationship between Syria and Israel.


VY: I was very angered by Israel's position until recently. Unfortunately, Israel, which has always pursued a policy of non-interference, in fact, began to help one of the parties - namely, the opposition. I have in mind the latest bombing and missile strikes on the territory of Lebanon. There were allegations that on the territory of Lebanon there are preparations for a militia group of "Hezbollah" amounting to 50,000; It was stated that chemical weapons might fall into the hands of some forces, such as terrorist organizations. This largely destructive role of Israel, fortunately, is now diminished. I think that it was probably influenced by Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Sochi, where there had been some agreement. For Israel, it is important that in Syria there are no Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-300PMU-2. Let me remind you that we are talking about six divisional missile systems. And Russia is ready to supply these complexes. Apparently, probably due to the fact that Russia slowed down the supply of these complexes, a commitment was made by Israel to refrain from attacking Syria. From this point of view, I can say that, apparently, now Israel's position has become more constructive, even though I know personally some of the political figures in Israel who are now continuing to carry out extremely aggressive policy towards Syria and ready to push the country to actively intervene in fighting on the side of the opponents of Bashar al-Assad. So I think that what happened may have a short-term effect in nature. Apparently, we must continue to work with Israel so that it refrains from both attacks on Syria and helping the opposition forces, due to which the balance is disturbed, and it forces other states, such as Iran, to become increasingly involved in the conflict with the elimination of this balance. Therefore, I believe that Israel is now playing a more constructive role than it played, for example, a month ago.