Astana talks failed to bring progress to Syrian civil war situation

Last week in Astana, representatives from Turkey, Russia and Iran met to discuss the Syrian civil war situation. Much was said afterwards about how positive the talks were, however nothing has been set in stone making many doubt that any advancement is likely. The talks seemed to be a gathering of the three nations – Turkey, Russia and Iran – seeking their own personal objectives.

Not surprisingly, Iran is the main obstacle in Syria. Or rather, Iran is still the main obstacle. If there was a true ceasefire in Syria, Iran would lose its position in the country. 

Since the 30th December ceasefire “pact”, Iran has continued to launch attacks on Wadi Barada near Damascus, a besieged area held by rebels. So it really cannot be called a ceasefire if it is not respected. The Syrian regime claims that Iran is helping the Syrian forces (along with Lebanese Hezbollah) to fight against terrorist groups affiliated to al-Qaeda. They say that the terrorists are in control of Ain al-Fijeh, a village in Wadi Barada.

However locals have said that this is a huge exaggeration. Clearly Iran and the Syrian regime are looking for ways to break the ceasefire and continue fighting. 

Elsewhere there have been airstrikes in other rebel-controlled areas in the west of Syria, causing multiple deaths. 

The Iranian regime, just like it has done with the Iran nuclear deal, is going to exploit the loopholes of the Astana talks – of which there are many. The process will be a complete failure because nothing has been set in place properly, and there is no way for a monitored ceasefire to happen. 

Ironically, Iran has been tasked with monitoring the ceasefire. As a ceasefire is not in the Iranian regime’s interests (and as it already disregarded a ceasefire), this is a farcical decision.

The talks were non-specific and were not focused on the real issues. There was a lack of seriousness and nothing concrete has been agreed. No documents or agreements were signed between the two parties affected by the talks – the Syrian regime representatives and the opposition.

It is clear that the next talks need to involve the Gulf States and the US in order for progress to be made. Iran, obviously terrified of the new US president who is outspokenly critical of the regime, objects to the participation of the United States. Russia, however, welcomes the US to negotiations. 

Many have questioned Iran’s participation in the talks. It has had a negative involvement in Syria since the beginning of the civil war and is still launching attacks in rebel-held areas causing many civilian casualties. 

The Iranian regime is also on a campaign of domestic crackdown, leaving no doubt that Iran needs to be stopped. 

Maryan Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has said that Iran must be evicted from Syria. She said: “The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region.”