Earlier today, Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to jointly monitor the fragile cessation of hostilities in Syria and pledged to work for a political solution to end the Syrian civil war. But while Moscow and Ankara are trying to broaden the scope of future discussions on Syria, Tehran continues to oppose the inclusion of the United States and regional Sunni states in the process.
Iranian military leaders, in particular, are emphasizing that Saudi Arabia should be excluded in future Syria discussions. Last month, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, rejected requests by Moscow and Ankara to include Riyadh in the Astana talks – arguing that Saudi Arabia sought to topple Iran’s ally Bashar al-Assad. Dehghan is a former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which has mobilized tens of thousands of Lebanese, Afghan, Pakistani and Iraqi Shiites to prop up the embattled Assad regime.
After today’s Syria meeting was concluded, Fars News Agency, which is run by the IRGC, a lengthy article celebrating the absence of Riyadh in the Astana talks. “Whether or not these discussions produce results, they convey a significant message: the exclusion of Saudi Arabia from meetings of important countries about Syria’s major issues,” it said.