The visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian to Damascus and then to Ankara during the past few days was not “usual” for many observers, as it was “surprising” and coincided with the progress of the rapprochement between Turkey and the Syrian regime under the banner of Moscow, while the official stressed that his country’s role in any “Syrian solution” was remarkable for its focus on “Astana”, and Tehran’s intention to use the formula of this longer Syrian track update.
The idea of ”modernization” or the modification of the formula is that “Syria” is involved in a reference from Tehran to the Syrian regime as a fourth party in “Astana”, after the track was limited to the “sponsor” trio of Turkey, Iran and Russia, over 19 rounds, since 2017.
As Abdullahian pitched this idea to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara, Ali Asghar Khaji, Iran’s chief foreign affairs adviser, preceded him by hinting at it, telling Iranian media that “work is underway to format of the Astana”. talks on Syria, in accordance with the current circumstances and changes.” .
Khaji pointed out that the Syrian regime was informed about the importance of “Astana” to become a quadrangle, and that “in the upcoming rounds that we will do to other countries that are members of the track formula, we will raise these issues and try to make them more effective and efficient with an appropriate strategy based on the new conditions in the region.” the country.”
During a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Friday, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi reiterated the idea of ”the importance of implementing the Astana process, which is used as a mechanism to settle the situation in Syria.” “
“Motion has modified the image”
Iran has been considered one of the two allies of the Assad regime since 2011, providing it with military and political support and tipping the scales in its favor against its opponents, and while its name was hidden in the path of rapprochement between Turkey and the Syrian regime in favor of Moscow, his sudden move in Ankara and Damascus changed the prevailing scene.
The rapprochement that began with the first meeting at the level of defense ministers in the Russian capital, Moscow, gave its stations to continue bilaterally between the latter and Ankara, away from Tehran, which reaffirmed that the Syrian dossier cannot be resolved “without his presence.”
Therefore, observers who spoke to the Al-Hurra website believe that Abdullahian’s visit to Damascus and Ankara did not deviate from the above comparison, since it was two-way and sudden to be present in what is happening, especially since it previously offered to play the role of “mediator” between Turkey and the Assad regime. .
Regarding “Astana”, the researcher specializing in Iranian affairs, dr. Mahmoud Al-Bazi, considering that its compliance and calling for the modification of its formula to be a “quartet” aims to achieve several goals, including the “removal of foreign mediations outside the framework of the platform”, as Tehran does not want any other parties. To enter the line of Turkish-Syrian reconciliation.
Tehran also does not want, according to what the researcher told Al-Hurra, to conclude bilateral or tripartite agreements between Turkey, Syria and Russia without it, and therefore “now calls on Tehran to change the composition of the road” and emphasize It.
“Iran is trying to restore the Iranian role through mediation through the Astana platform.” Over the past months, the internal conditions it has witnessed have necessitated Moscow’s entry into playing this role.
Al-Bazi added, “The Iranians do not want bilateral agreements outside of Astana, as they may carry secret clauses and conflict with their interests.”
Since the beginning of the launch of the track, the purpose of “Astana” has been to form a joint framework between Turkey, Iran and Russia to prevent the clash of their forces on the ground, in addition to “to define the boundaries of influence between the three,” according to Syrian researcher Orwa Ajoub.
Ajoub explains that the recent development, with Moscow encouraging Turkey to restore its relations with the Syrian regime, seemed to suggest that this “bilateral” move removed Iran from the tripartite table, prompting the latter to follow the path set in 2017 has been launched, to reconfirm.
Ajoub told Al-Hurra: “What we know is that Iran is angry with the Syrian regime, and this has translated into its refusal to supply it with oil and its request from Damascus to pay for shipments in cash, in as opposed to the old model which relied on deferred debt.” This was revealed by the American Wall Street Journal.
However, it is difficult to confirm the “anger” about its exclusion from the “reconciliation process” between Ankara and Damascus, while the researcher notes that “the entry of the UAE and the discussion about the possibility of the foreign ministers of Turkey to meet, Russia and Syria in Abu Dhabi left Tehran resentful of the geopolitical rivalry with the latter.”
Ajoub believes that “Abu Dhabi’s perception that Iran is a single ally, but not necessarily a good one, and that the regime does not have many solutions, prompted it to open its embassies in 2018 and try to improve the relationship between the two parties. somehow, or by transforming the dependency relationship into a less conflicting one.” .
Considering that Abdullahian’s visit to Damascus, last week, coincided with the multitude of statements and positions related to the rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus, it also came in the wake of a visit by the Emirati Minister of foreign affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed, also to Syria, where he met Bashar al-Assad and his counterpart, Faisal al-Miqdad.
His previous visit to the capital in July last year also followed a visit bin Zayed made to Damascus, after Abu Dhabi largely restored its relations with the Syrian regime.
What does formula update mean?
Iran, Turkey and Russia are considered guarantors of the “Syrian Astana” track, and since 2017, parties of the Syrian opposition and the regime have been constantly meeting to discuss field and political issues at the same time.
However, the Iranian officials’ talk that work is being done to update the formula of the lane so that it becomes a “four-way” may contain dimensions and developments that increase the “resurgence of Assad” and the opposition’s chances of negotiation, according to observers.
Al-Bazi explains, “The Iranians are trying to restore the Astana railway to the previous track after it was disrupted due to internal circumstances, and they do not want any bilateral track that could harm their interests.”
Al-Bazi says: “What Iran means by updating the formula to a quartet does not mean that the regime imposes on Turkey as a country sitting at the negotiating table, because Ankara has been negotiating on this basis for a long time, although it questioned Assad’s legitimacy at the outset.”
He added, “The Iranian message is directed to other parties, such as America, the West and Europe, that solutions for Syria must go through the Syrian regime.”
“Iran is trying to internationalize President Assad. There are 3 ‘No’s” in the western side and the United States, and they emphasize it, while Tehran works to soften it,” by announcing the Syrian regime as a fourth party in “Astana set. .”
On the seventeenth of this January, the European Union held a session in the presence of representatives of all member states, to discuss the situation in Syria, emphasizing the continuation of the support of the Syrian people, and emphasizing the three “No” : “No to normalization, no to reconstruction, and no to the lifting of sanctions,” as long as the regime did not effectively participate in the political solution.
Al-Bazi, the researcher, notes that Tehran is trying to break the first no-no by reviving the path of normalizing relations with the Syrian regime. And he adds: “You think that once the first one is relieved, it can move to the path of reconstruction and the lifting of sanctions.”
For his part, Orwa Ajoub, a senior analyst at the Operational Analysis and Research Center, spoke of two goals for introducing the Assad regime as a fourth party at “Astana”.
The researcher believes that “the new path between the Syrian regime and Turkey, under the protection of the UAE and Russia, may keep Iran out of the game.”
He points to a second goal related to Tehran’s intention to exclude the opposition: “If the regime becomes a fourth party alongside Russia, Iran and Turkey, the opposition will no longer be a party, but rather an outlet for outputs.”
Nevertheless, “it is too early to decide on the introduction of the Syrian regime as an Iranian demand,” in light of the uncertainty about the future of reconciliation with Turkey. Ajoub added, “Ankara and Moscow also have an opinion and their bilateral understanding. .”