Zarif & Lavrov & Cavusoglu

Game changes: US excluded, Iran included

December 24, The Iran Project – The three regional powers – Iran, Russia and Turkey – met for an unprecedented summit on Syria talks in Moscow Tuesday, leaving the United States on the sidelines.

At the end of their trilateral meeting, the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey issued a joint statement on agreed steps to revitalize the political process to end Syria’s nearly six-year crisis.

According to the Declaration — which Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called the “Moscow Declaration” — the troika reiterate their determination to fight jointly against Daesh and al-Nusra terrorists and to separate them from armed opposition groups.

“Iran, Russia, and Turkey express their readiness to facilitate and become the guarantors of the prospective agreement, being negotiated, between the Syrian government and the opposition,”the declaration said, inviting other countries with influence on the ground to do the same.

Turkey is partaking in talks on behalf of anti-Damascus militants, who had been in control of the eastern part of the city until recently. Russia has been supporting the Syrian government and has been negotiating on its behalf.

It is worth mentioning that US Secretary of State John Kerry was not invited. Nor was the United Nations consulted.

Meetings between their foreign and defense ministers took place despite the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in Ankara a day earlier, and come after the three countries recently worked together to broker a cease-fire in Aleppo.

Some believe that the alliance announcement of their intention to broker a solution to Syria’s war without American involvement has underlined Washington’s increasingly marginalized role in the crisis.

The New York Times wrote that with pro-government forces having made critical gains on the ground, the new alignment and the absence of any Western powers at the table all but guarantee that President Bashar al-Assad will continue to rule Syria under any resulting agreement, despite President Obama’s declaration more than five years ago that Mr. Assad had lost legitimacy and had to be removed.

This is while Iran repeatedly called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s remaining in power as its redline. “Since the Syrian nation chose Bashar al-Assad as president two years ago, he will remain in the post until the Syrian people change him,” Ali Akbar Velayati, who is the Leader’s adviser on international affairs, said in an interview with the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel.

ٍMeanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said that the United States is seeking to protect the Takfiri al-Nusra Front terrorist group and use it as a tool to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Nusra Front has recently renamed itself and claimed to have broken ranks with al-Qaeda, although there is general consensus that the moves are decoy attempts.

The big absent and Moscow Declaration message 

Apparently, the most striking feature of the Moscow talks was who wasn’t in attendance despite its own involvement in the Syrian conflict: US
Russia and the US have jointly led previous diplomatic efforts to broker peace in Syria, through UN-backed talks in Geneva. But the US was not invited to Tuesday’s talks, which were conducted without UN involvement.
Despite previous Syria crisis meetings a new game changer was present at the table: Iran
Russian defense Minister Shoigu said, “All previous attempts by the United States and its partners to agree on coordinated actions were doomed to failure,” Shoigu said. “None of them wielded real influence over the situation on the ground.”
In a further effort to cement his influence on the Syrian peace process, Putin has said he and Erdogan are trying to organize a new series of negotiations — without the involvement of the United States or the United Nations — in Astana, Kazakhstan.

So to sum it up, it can be concluded that the trilateral meetings reflect some quite fundamental changes that are going on, and show how the balance has shifted.