By Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Respect for the nations’ right to self-determination, opposition to imposition of the will of foreign players on independent nations, and opposition to arbitrary use of terrorism as a means to secure political objectives are the guiding principles of Iran’s Syria policy, said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an opinion piece Ettela’at daily published on Monday November 23.
The following is the translation of the piece is in its entirety:
Recent developments, including two conferences in Vienna, Austria, have put the Syrian crisis on a new track, creating a ray of hope for the first time that one of the biggest human tragedies of our time might come to an end.
At the beginning of this trend, attention to the framework of Iran’s stance on the Syrian crisis and the way out of it seems necessary.
1. Since the beginning, the policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran on ending the Syrian crisis has been based on three principles: First, respect for the nations’ right to self-determination and reformation of their own affairs; Second, opposition to imposition of the will of foreign players on an independent state and nation; Third, opposition to arbitrary use of terrorism as a means to secure political objectives in internal disputes of the countries.
2. Based on these three principles, Iran has always believed that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis and the only way out of the current situation goes through political measures to secure a deal in all-Syrian talks involving the government and the anti-terrorist opposition.
To that end, players whose expensive arms purchases have given them the illusion that a military solution is possible should end their illusory mentality. It should be noted that if a fraction of the money they are spending on buying arms from Western companies had been channeled to the economic development in Islamic countries and Muslim communities, one of the root causes of violence and terrorism would have been wiped out.
3. Prolongation of the Syrian crisis which has plunged the country into an appalling condition comes on the back of massive foreign intervention and adoption of policies that promote violence, extremism and terror simply to score a point with the Syrian people and government.
Unfortunately, some states still view IS and Al-Nusra Front and other Takfiri terrorist groups and their offshoots not as a collective threat but as an asset they can use to advance their regional cause. Conditioning a serious, all-out fight against Takfiri terrorists on the political future of Syria is the biggest sign of this dangerous regional and global strategy.
Takfiri terrorists have proven time and again that in pursuing their unholy goals, they show no mercy to their allies, past or present. Unfortunately, however, supporters of these groups have yet to appreciate this reality.
4. States to which fundamental democratic means and principles such as the Constitution and elections are alien are hiding behind support for the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people to impose impractical and unacceptable conditions on them. In practice, they have interfered with efforts to work out a political solution to the crisis and dragged out the war for four years. Their hopes of securing a swift political victory have fanned the flames of violence and terrorism in the region and around the world and prolonged the crisis in Syria.
5. Formulating a process to end the Syrian crisis calls for attention to the root causes of the crisis and its persistence. So we believe any solution to the Syrian crisis should be based on the following principles:
A. The only way to solve the Syrian crisis goes through the views of the Syrian people. Foreign players should not speak in the name of the Syrian nation who is free and independent and does not need a custodian. Besides, gone are the times that nations needed guardians.
B. An immediate ceasefire to end bloodshed along with coordinated international efforts to take on terrorism and extremism is the first step in settling the crisis and paving the way for parallel measures in the future.
C. Instead of making efforts to interfere in Syria and impose their will, foreign players should stage an unconditional campaign against known Takfiri terrorists and help the Syrian government and opposition launch all-Syrian talks to set the stage for a political agreement to make national reconciliation a reality and work out an exit from the current crisis through the votes of the Syrian people.
D. All players contributing to efforts to end the crisis should shelve their inefficient policy of making arbitrary use of terrorism and avoid distinguishing between good and bad terrorists.
Terrorism in all shapes and forms should be dismissed and players who have spent a lot on supporting terrorist groups and thus plunged the region and the world into instability and insecurity should discontinue their policies. To that end, the following take top priority: stopping the purchase of IS oil, preventing the transfer of its oil revenues and stemming the flow of foreign fighters [into Syria].
6. A united front in the fight against terrorism and parallel progress in talks to secure an all-Syrian deal can pave the way for departure from the current conditions and mark the beginning of the end of this massive tragedy.
7. In addition to inevitable military and security approaches, an effective long-term fight against terror requires an all-out social, cultural and economic drive. In the absence of such a push, military and even political solutions will remain temporary at best.
8. Also to that end, ending Islamophobia and desecration of Muslim sanctities in the West which have marginalized the Muslim community and caused indignation in its ranks is inevitable. In parallel, promotion of Takfiri mentality which is drawing huge investment in the name of Islam around the world should come to a halt.
9. In the meantime, until a political solution is nailed down, measures to meet the urgent needs of refugees, both internal and external, are inevitable.