Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- A leader in Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] has denied holding meetings with Iranian officials, stressing that the group has turned down six Iranian invitations through a Turkish intermediary to discuss the Syrian crisis.
Leading MB figure, Mulhim al-Durubi‘s denial was in response to statements by Bilal Tayfur, son of Faruq Tayfur, the MB’s deputy guide, to the Turkish news agency “Anadolu” in which he claimed that six meetings were recently held between MB leaders and Iranian officials through a Turkish intermediary for reaching a solution to the Syrian crisis, denying a report in London’s Financial Times which cited Iranian Shura Council Speaker Ali Larijani’s claim that the meetings were held in Iran. He added that “Iran informed the group at the last meeting of its readiness to abandon its demand that Al-Assad should remain in power in return for an understanding about the next stage” and said: “We agreed with them at the sixth meeting that was held before one month that there would be no dialogue except after Al-Assad’s departure from power and we demanded from them to stop backing the Syrian regime.” Regarding Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari’s acknowledgement that members of its Quds Corps were in Syria and Lebanon, Bilal Tayfur said “our stand is clear, namely, Iran is a partner in the crimes Al-Assad’s regime is committing against the Syrians and the meetings which were held were just an attempt to deter them from this role.”
However, al-Durubi said “Bilal Tayfur’s remarks were misunderstood.” He asserted in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that “absolutely no meeting was held between the Brothers and the Iranians” and said: “The actual fact is that the Iranians proposed to us six times through a Turkish intermediary to meet with them to discuss the Syrian situation without divulging the program of this dialogue and the issues they would raise. But we informed them that we would not meet with or talk to them until after they have stopped backing Bashar al-Assad.” He pointed out that “the Iranians proposed for the seventh time through the intermediary in which they asserted that they were not committed to Al-Assad and our condition was stop your backing for Bashar with money, arms, and experts and declare your support and backing for the Syrian people and their legitimate rights so that we can sit with you at one table for a dialogue.” In reply to a question, Al-Durubi expected “Iran to have raised the same matter with the Syrian National Council [SNC] which has the same stand.”
On his part, Samir al-Nashar, member of the SNC’s Executive Bureau, said SNC member Bilal Tayfur “informed the Executive Bureau that there were Iranian intermediaries wanting to open a dialogue either with the MB or the SNC and that he (Tayfur) informed them that there was no possibility of a dialogue between them and us until after you abandon Bashar al-Assad or his departure from power.” Al-Nashar asserted in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Iranian contacts took place several times through intermediaries but the SNC and MB view Iran as part of the problem and not as part of the solution and the evidence is the Iranian officials’ recent statements which proved that Iran is a real partner in the war against the Syrian people. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander stated this publicly when he said we are present in Syria and are backing the Syrian army with experts and advice.” He said: “The Iranian security official announced some time ago that the Syrian regime’s security was part of Iran’s security and this is evidence that Iran is waging its war in Syria against the Syrian people and we therefore believe a dialogue with Iran is useless as long as this is its stand and as long we are rejecting the dialogue with Al-Assad we also reject it with Iran.”
He went on to say that “the Iranian proposals are just an attempt to open channels of communications with the SNC and with the (Brothers) to join the political channels that Al-Assad is claiming to open but we believe there is no benefit from any political dialogue except after Al-Assad steps down from power, particularly as we know that he is a war criminal and should be taken to the International Criminal Court to be tried for his crimes against humanity after the death of more than 30,000 Syrian martyrs, the displacement of millions of Syrians inside and outside the country, and the destruction of Syrian cities.”