The United States said Tuesday that Tehran, an ally of Damascus regime, could take part in the talks on the Syrian crisis, putting forward the same time their commitment to intensify their strikes against the jihadist Islamic State Group (EI).
The Secretary of State John Kerry has to participate this weekend in Vienna in discussions to try to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict, following a first meeting last week between the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
“We expect Iran to be invited to participate,” said the spokesman of the State Department, John Kirby, evoking a scenario would represent a major diplomatic turning against a war that killed more than 250 000 dead since 2011.
US officials did not specify who would forward the invitation to Tehran, or if they expected that the Islamic Republic agrees. These new discussions be held Friday, but diplomats evoke several preparatory meetings on Thursday evening.
The fate of Syrian President continues to divide Washington and Moscow, key support Damascus. The CIA director John Brennan said he was convinced about it that Russians eventually would seek the departure of Bashar al-Assad.
“Despite what they say, I think the Russians do not see Assad in the future of Syria,” said Tuesday the head of the CIA.
“The question is when and how they will be able to bring him (Assad) to leave the stage,” he said.
Proof of maneuvers underway, US President Barack Obama called Tuesday Salman Saudi king to discuss in particular the fight against the EI and a possible “political transition in Syria,” according to a report broadcast by the White House who does not mention a possible place of Tehran in the coming discussions.
Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia – the two great rival powers in the region – are openly opposed to Syria. Tehran brings with financial and military support to the regime while Saudi Arabia supports the rebels.
Iran does not officially send troops to Syria, but only “advisers” members of the Revolutionary Guards, the elite unit of the army. Unprecedented since the beginning of the conflict, Tehran announced very officially since early October death of fifteen Iranians in Syria.
Former Secretary General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that a solution was possible if Russia and the United States were to “work together”.
At the end of the first conference on Syria (Geneva 1), 30 June 2012, the great powers had signed a conflict settlement plan for a political transition, but has remained a dead letter. “It was perhaps too early in 2012. But today we see contacts that were not possible in 2012,” said Mr Annan.
“Direct action on the ground”
On the military side, Washington has shown a willingness to intensify strikes in Syria and Iraq.
“We plan to intensify our aerial campaign, including with additional coalition and US units to target the IE with more and mightier strikes”, said Minister of Defense Ashton Carter before the Armed Services Committee of the Senate.
“We do not support will ban partner able to carry on the occasion of the attacks against the IE, or conduct these missions ourselves, whether by air strikes and direct actions on the ground,” added Mr. Carter.
This implied that the US military could again participate in ground operations, such as that conducted last week by special forces to release 70 prisoners of the jihadist group. The operation killed a US soldier, the first to die in Iraq since 2011.
The Americans and their allies are piloting an international coalition against the EI and support certain Syrian rebel enemies of the regime. For its part, Russia launched there nearly a month an aerial bombing campaign in Syria. An intervention against “terrorism,” says Moscow. Raids intended to save the head of the Syrian state, accusing Washington and its partners.
Mr. Carter said the United States will now concentrate on the “three Rs”: Raqa, Ramadi and raids. Ramadi is the capital of the province of Al-Anbar, in western Iraq, the Iraqi forces try to regain the IU, with the support of coalition air strikes.