Americans ‘obsessed,’ act out of short-sighted self-interest in Syria – Iranian FM
US actions in Syria appear to be driven by “obsession” and overt “profiteering,” Iran’s foreign minister said, warning that Washington could cause long-term damage to the region.
The criticism of Washington came from Javad Zarif on Monday at a discussion on Middle East issues and Russia’s role in the region, which was hosted by Moscow’s Valdai Club. The Iranian official expressed grave concerns at the ongoing escalation of tension in Syria.
“We see a new wave of foreign intervention and occupation, particularly by the United States, driven by – I don’t know how to call it, obsession?” he said, adding that Washington’s goal was “profiteering, [and] short-sighted geo-economic interest to capture territory.”
Zarif blamed Washington’s arming of Kurdish militias for provoking Turkey into launching a military operation in Syria, which, he said, was a bad move itself.
“The use of proxies by the United States is dangerous for the proxies, for the United States and for the region. It is creating momentum in our region, which will be long-lasting and which will have consequences for years to come.
“The anxieties of our Turkish neighbors, particularly about US designs in the region, are understandable, but that is no way to address those anxieties,” the Iranian official said. “We believed that those anxieties can best be addressed legitimately and lawfully through the Syrian government. And we believe incursions into other peoples’ territories will not help resolve the problem.”
Iran’s position was backed by Russia, which sees the US as a major factor of destabilization in Syria, taking into account its apparent attempts to partition the country.
“I believe all the assurances of our American colleagues that their only goal in Syria was to fight ISIS [Islamic State/IS] and preserve Syria’s territorial integrity need to be proven by concrete actions,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the same meeting.
He said the US was “playing with fire” in pursuit of its self-serving goals and was damaging the wellbeing of the various groups living in the region, including the Kurds.
“We support the just aspiration of the Kurdish people to live in accordance with their traditions and centuries-long history,” the Russian diplomat said. “But we believe it is wrong when someone uses this aspiration to reach selfish political goals that have nothing to do with the interests of the Kurds.”
Speaking to RT after the event, Zarif criticized the reported proposal by Turkey for a joint deployment of troops with the US in the Syrian Kurdish city of Manbij. The proposal was suggested by the Turks during the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara last week, according to a Reuters report.
“I believe only the Syrian people should decide about Syria, external powers should not decide,” the Iranian diplomat said. “We believe that the establishment of foreign military bases on Syrian territory without the authorization by the Syrian government are inherently destabilizing and dangerous.”
Kurdish militias supported by American air forces and special operations units were instrumental in defeating IS in northern Syria. But Washington’s plan to arm and train those militias angered Ankara, which perceives them as an extension of Kurdish militant groups in Turkey. The Turkish military last month launched a military operation across the border, targeting the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in the northwest of the country.