Rouhani Okays the Obama-Putin Pact for Syria. But No Word from Khamenei

Tehran was kept abreast of the US-Russian negotiations leading up to the Obama-Putin pact for ending the Syrian war (which this issue of DEBKA Weekly has aired for the first time).
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was briefed on progress by Russia’s Sergei Lavrov in several conversations.
The top Russian negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, kept American fellow-negotiator, ISIS war czar Brett McGurk, informed of those conversations.
Lavrov’s two selling-points focused on Tehran’s self-interest in the two powers’ success:
1. While Iran’s expeditionary force to Syria has risen to more than 3,000 officers and military advisers, along with a flow of weapons, Tehran cannot match the scale of strength Russia is willing to deploy for bringing the Syrian war to an end.
2. Iran can’t afford to pay out forever half a billion dollars month after month – $6 billion a year – to sustain the Assad regime. Even after cash is released by the lifting of sanctions, it makes no sense for Tehran to dedicate a huge portion of its future dividends to a never-ending war.
Zarif came back with a positive answer: Tehran had been won over to the Obama-Putin pact and its implementation.
To clinch Iran’s acquiescence, US Secretary of State John briefed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the pact’s details and asked him to put in a word with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his Rome visit on Jan. 26.
(Neither Washington nor Moscow has shared those details with any other European leader; nor do they plan to co-opt them to their scenario for Syria and the Assad presidency.)
Renzi returned to Kerry with Rouhani’s affirmative reply; the Iranian president had directed Zarif to confirm Tehran’s endorsement – except that as, DEBKA Weekly’s Iranian sources remind us, neither Rouhani nor Zarif has the last word on policy-making in the parallel world of Iranian government.
All final decisions rest irrevocably with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the thousands of his anonymous yes-men who don’t take orders from the titular heads of government.
Even the “landmark” nuclear deal, touted by Obama and Kerry as in the bag, has never been countersigned by Iran’s real bosses, and so any violations would be hard to pin on any member of this faceless throng.
Coordinating Syrian operations with the Islamic regime will be as problematic as ever.
After Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, overall Iranian Mid East commander in chief, visited Moscow for consultations, the Kremlin was taken aback to hear from Tehran that those visits did not count as direct contacts with the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The channel for such contacts, the Russians were told, must go through Ali Akbar Velayati, the supreme leader’s personal foreign minister.
Without Velayati’s okay, President Rouhani’s endorsement of the two-power pact for Syria is worthless.
So does Iran support that pact and Bashar Assad ouster? Nobody in Washington or Moscow knows the answer.

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