Iran thwarts Syrian “contact group” plan over US conditions for nuclear talks

Iran stalled the US Secretary and UN-Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to present the world body’s special session Thursday, June 7, with a plan for a contract group based on five permanent Security Council members and Iran to handle the Syrian impasse. Tehran refused to join the group as long as it faces nuclear conditions, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Istanbul that Iran must come to the nuclear talks in Moscow “ready to take concrete steps” to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.

Discussion of the plan was therefore abandoned in the hall and confined to UN corridors. By forcing the pace at the special general assembly crisis session, Tehran once again demonstrated its refusal to play ball with the international community until its major power status in the Middle East is recognized.
Iranian sources have insisted in recent days that the six power talks with Iran were not just about its nuclear program but affected a wider spectrum, because the nuclear issue could be settled at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Tehran has made it clear that the continuation of nuclear diplomacy is contingent on the general recognition of Iran’s major power status.
The situation in Syria meanwhile continues to deteriorate disastrously amid conflicting claims about another massacre at the Hama village of Mazraat al-Qubeir: Opposition activists have disseminated video footage illustrating the slaughter of up to 70 people, including women and children, by Assad’s security forces and militiamen less than two weeks after the Houla massacre. This is denied by official sources in Damascus who say no more than nine people died at the hands of “terrorists.”

No independent testimony was available on the episode from the UN monitors, who set out for the Hama village. The UN Secretary said they turned back after they were fired on by small arms and would set out again Friday.
Kofi Annan warned that if nothing changes in Syria, the future holds all-out civil war. His words attested to the helplessness of the world body to put a stop of the bloodshed in Syria, combined with the Obama administration’s refusal to intervene in the crisis in the expectation that Russia and Iran would step up. That expectation has faded.

debkafile reported Wednesday, June 6: Israel remains dormant despite the serious consequences to its strategic and security situation threatened by the new proposal the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan is to present to the UN Thursday, June 7, for saving his peace plan. The nub of his proposal, debkafile’s sources disclose, is the creation of a “contact group” for handling the hot Syrian potato. It is to be composed of the five permanent Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) plus Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The proposal has won the blessing of the Obama administration, meaning its consent to letting the two powers that will dominate the contact group, Russia and Iran, determine the course and outcome of the Syrian crisis.
Washington believes that only they have the clout in the Syrian army for bringing about Bashar Assad’s removal and his replacement in Damascus by a provisional military regime.
Washington also hopes, according to our sources, that this gesture will give Moscow a strong incentive to lean hard on Tehran for concessions at the next round of its talk with the six world powers on June 13.
Neither Iran nor Moscow have promised the US anything of the sort, but the administration hopes Iran will start being forthcoming on its nuclear program after being permitted to assume a central role in Damascus.

There is less optimism outside administration circles and in Israel. They expect from Tehran nothing more at the next round of talks than token nuclear concessions, and none at all toward curtailing its work on a nuclear weapon.
However the Obama administration appears to have opted for this course, even though it is the first time since the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in December 2010 that the United States is willing to let go of a major Middle East crisis and allow its foremost Middle East rivals, Moscow and Tehran, to take charge.
debkafile reported exclusively on May 31, that President Barack Obama had proposed to President Vladimir Putin the creation of a large force of 5,000 international monitors for Syria, most of them Russians, to safeguard Assad’s stock of biological and chemical weapons against falling into the hands of al Qaeda or Syrian rebels. This team consisting of thousands of Russian troops would be the operational arm of the future “contact group.”

As far as Israel is concerned, the plan has disastrous connotations. Instead of containing the spread of hostile Iranian influence in the region, as Obama promised Israel, he is opening for the door for Iran to extend its nfluence squarely in the countries neighboring on – and still at war with – Israel, while at the same time moving back from a focused effort to draw the sting of Iran’s nuclear bomb program.
Israel’s political and security tacticians never took into account that a consequence of the Syrian revolt would be the establishment of full-blown Iranian sway over Damascus in partnership with Russia. Indeed, for 15 months, they insisted that the Syrian uprising was proof of America’s success in breaking up the dangerous Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah axis.

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