US warns Syria conference “fluid” over UN invitation to Iran. Crisis in US ties with Russia, Iran

The Obama administration was forced Monday, Jan. 20, the day Iran began implementing the accord for curbing its nuclear program, to put its foot down for a serious crisis with Moscow and Tehran over the invitation extended to Iran by UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon to attend the Syria peace conference due to open Wednesday.

The US State Department stated that it expects the UN to withdraw the invitation to Iran unless Tehran fully accepts a 2012 agreement that establishes a transitional government in Syria that would pave the way for democratic elections. The composition of that interim government would be determined by mutual consent of both the Syrian opposition and representatives of President Bashar Assad's government.

Tehran has shirked this condition because it would be tantamount to accepting Bashar Assad’s removal.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the chance of the January 22 peace conference going ahead was still "fluid," since Iran had not met the condition of full endorsement of the Geneva 1 agreement.

Tehran was, moreover, angrily criticized by US officials for “doing nothing to de-escalate tensions in Syria… and their actions have actually aggravated them,” including arming Assad’s forces and sending fighters to assist his side.
debkafile’s Washington sources report that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were shocked into realizing that their outreach to Tehran and Moscow may have gone too far when they saw both acting off their own bat on the most critical and burning Middle East affair without bothering to consult or even inform the US administration.
Tehran and Moscow persuaded the UN Secretary to take the initiative for the first time on a hot-button issue without regard for the US bar on participation in the Syria peace conference. They argued that the Americans would not make a fuss for fear of upsetting the nuclear accord on the very day that Iran began upholding the deal.
The question now is how far the Obama administration will go if Ban refuses to withdraw his invitation to Iran, two days before the Syria conference opens in the Swiss town of Montreux.

Who will climb down?
Intensive and urgent discussions are under way for a solution, which could be based on John Kerry’s proposal of Jan, 5 for Iran to attend the conference from the sidelines.

Iran, for its part, may react in three possible ways:

1. By standing aside and letting the Obama administration and the UN Secretary fight it out between them. After all Tehran has already received a formal invitation to Geneva 2.

2.  By ignoring the grave US accusations regarding its role in exacerbating the Syrian crisis.
3.  By an extreme reaction which could come in the form of Iran suspending nuclear diplomacy and holding the responsible by gong back to “the old rhetoric.”

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