MESOP NEWS “NOW IRAN RULES SYRIA” Iran’s Rouhani Calls Assad

By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – November 26, 2017  – President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has called Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad to encourage his regime’s participation in political discussions with a reshaped opposition.Rouhani’s call on Saturday came three days after he conferred with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the strategy for a political resolution of the 80-month conflict. The three leaders proclaimed a national congress to discuss issues such as a new constitution and elections.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia hosted a conference in which a reformed opposition High Negotiations Committee included factions preferred by Russia for the first time.Rouhani told Assad that the Sochi summit was “a right step at the right time” and said the congress would be “a step towards stability and security of Syria”.

Summaries of the discussion did not indicate if Rouhani discussed Assad’s future. Iran has held out so far against any transition in which the Syrian leader departed, but the reformed HNC, despite the inclusion of the Russian-backed groups, maintained its call for Assad’s removal at the start of the process.

Beyond the political question, Rouhani emphasized that “Tehran is ready to have an active role in reconstruction of Syria”.

The statement bolstered a Thursday declaration by Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who said Iranian and Iranian-led forces would maintain a lasting presence in Syria for a “ceasefire” and reconstruction.Iran, which has taken the lead in propping up the Syrian military since 2012, has expanded its economic stake in the country with the de facto acquisition of phosphate mines, contracts for oil and gas terminals, and the seizure and redevelopment of property in southern Damascus, moving residents.