Effectively admitting a setback for the Russian-Iranian peace initiative for Syria, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lashed out at Saudi Arabia.
Zarif was in Lebanon on Tuesday, meeting Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah — another key backer of the Assad regime — when news came through of the high-profile rejection by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir of the initiative.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Moscow with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, al-Jubeir insisted that President Assad must give up power for a transitional government.
The Iranian Foreign Minister immediately postponed his trip to Turkey, which supports Syria’s opposition and rebels.
Speaking to Lebanese journalists, Zarif tried to cover up the setback, saying that the visit to Ankara had been delayed because of time pressure and would take place next week.
He then turned on Riyadh: “Our Saudi friends need to see the truth, we are faced with many problems and we have seen the great suffering of our neighbors.”
Zarif made a pointed comparison: he said that, in the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, Iran had helped ensure that those neighbors “did not help [Iraq’s] Saddam Hussein against the Saudis, even though the Saudis supported Saddam in the [1980s] war against us”.
The Foreign Minister then moved to Damascus, where he met Assad on Wednesday. No details were released of the discussion.
By EA WorldView