The Wall Street Journal has announced it has learned through its informed sources that US President Barack Obama recently sent a “secret” letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regarding both countries’ cooperation in the fight against terror and expediting the deal on Iran’s nuclear program. A few days later, US Secretary of State John Kerry had a “friendly and positive” meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Omani capital, Muscat. After the meeting, London’s The Times ran a front-page story on Washington being ready to resume diplomatic ties with Tehran.
The developments coincided with remarkable shifts in Iraq and Syria as influential members of the US Republican Party continued to place pressures on Obama. One such pressure came from the senior and influential Senator John McCain, who said the US was not winning its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and that what was happening there reminded him of the tragic Vietnam War in the 1960s.
After the major defeat they suffered in the recent midterm elections, the Democratic Party increased pressures on Obama to do “something.” This led him to rush to send 15,000 troops to Iraq. Obama’s administration announced that the purpose of sending this number of troops was to train the Iraqi army and raise its level of combat readiness in a professional manner. But doubtful analysts say they are on a more significant and accurate mission to “resolve” the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria and rescue Obama and his party’s reputation ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for 2016. Obama also called for an emergency National Security Council meeting to review his country’s policy on Syria in particular. Leaked reports suggest Obama views the departure of Bashar Al-Assad as among the most significant factors in the elimination of ISIS, marking a highly significant shift in the US president’s position.
Meanwhile, the Russians recently had close and serious meetings with some of the figures of the Syrian opposition, represented by the former head of the Syrian National Coalition, Moaz Al-Khatib. The discussions covered intricate details and the prospect of a post-Assad Syria, Khatib has maintained. The proposal being put forward now is to form a government from Assad’s supporters and opponents, with no place for him or the close circle around him—all of whom are accused of having blood on their hands.
There seems to be a deal being negotiated here. There is an Egyptian–Russian deal that would see Assad completely out of power while keeping the Syrian state and its territories intact. Such terms were approved by the Russians, according to leaked reports.
There is a growing and real sense that Assad must not be in any case part of the future of Syria, given that he is the one responsible for the catastrophe that has hit his country. The developments taking place in several areas, particularly between Washington and Tehran, are a prelude to finalizing this deal. What would be interesting is to see how Iran and the terrorist–takfirist militia of Hezbollah will approach the topic of “resistance” after all these meetings between Tehran and Washington—known in their literature as “the Great Satan” and the “leader of the imperial Zionist plot.” It would also be interesting to see how pro-Iran propagandists will explain to their supporters how the deal is in their best interest.
While he is preparing to accept the ceasefire proposal in Aleppo put forward by the UN’s special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, Assad will realize, today more than ever, that he has turned into a useless negotiating card.