Iranian FM Downplays Saudi Claims about Deploying Troops to Syria

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, referring to certain claims by Saudi Arabia about sending ground forces to Syria, hailed them as “propaganda”, saying that everyone knows just how little military might such countries have.

“It is clear that such remarks (about the deployment of troops to Syria) are mostly a propaganda stunt,” Zarif told reporters upon his arrival in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Sunday.

“National capabilities and facilities are self-evident, and such propagandistic bluffing will not help solve their problems,” he added, according to a report by Mizan news agency.

He further warned that such claims can even create more tension and danger in the region, and urged neighbouring countries to face and understand the current reality, and to leave their illusions aside.

“They should accept that they have to yield to the demands of the Syrian nation, and they should stop making decisions for the people of Syria,” Zarif said, reiterating that the Arab nation is the one that must make its own decision.

The comments came after Riyadh voiced its readiness to participate in ground operations in Syria if the US-led coalition, purportedly targeting terrorists, decides to commence any such operations.

Saudi Arabia is a member of the so-called US-led coalition, which has been conducting air raids against what are claimed to be Daesh (ISIS) terrorists inside Syria. This has been undertaken without any authorization from the Syrian government or a UN mandate, since September 2014.




Zarif’s Ongoing Visit to Europe


Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian foreign minister spoke about his visit to Brussels, stressing that Tehran has begun “important discussions” with the European Union (EU), and the his visit is being made within the same framework.

During the trip, which will last until Tuesday, it will be necessary to confer with EU officials, in particular Federica Mogherini, the EU Foreign Policy Chief, on the timely implementation of recent nuclear deal conditions (known as JCPOA) between Tehran and world powers, according to Zarif.

Bilateral ties and issues of mutual interest, as well as significant regional issues, will also be discussed with EU officials, the Iranian foreign minister added.

“The entire world has urged Saudi Arabia to cease its brutal war against the people of Yemen and its illegal attacks on civilians”, Zarif said, stressing that the necessity for putting an end to the war is another point due to be discussed during the European visit.

He also noted that during the visit, he will follow up on the issue of Syria, and the need for a concerted campaign against ISIS and other extremist groups.

“In the meeting at Munich, we managed to reach an agreement on the necessity for an all-out ceasefire, the cessation of military operations by all sides, and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people,” he added.

“These are the positions which the Islamic Republic of Iran has been stressing for several months, during the Vienna process meetings, for example,” Iran’s top diplomat said, while regretting that Saudi Arabia had opposed Iran’s views during previous meetings.

“However,” he added, “The Al Saud regime is now under international pressure to abandon its warmongering policies and its illusions of offering military solutions to the Syrian crisis.”

“We are sure it [Saudi Arabia] would have no other choice,” he added.