Before cutting his trip to New York short, President Hassan Rowhani appeared before the U.N. General Assembly on Monday and told world leaders that his country is ready to fight terrorism.
“Our policy is to continue our peace-seeking efforts in the region based on the same win- win principle, and act in a way that would lead to all in the region and world benefitting from these new conditions.” Rowhani said.
While it was not made clear what Iran was proposing to the U.N. in order to contribute to Syria peace talks, Western diplomats did not hide their disappointment over the way both Iran and Russia approached the matter.
Indeed, this “win-win” policy promoted by Rowhani’s government since becoming president led Iran to settle nuclear disputes with West, but this is no longer a guarantee that this policy will always work.
President Rowhani perhaps didn’t acknowledge that it was in the world’s interest to hear something new from Iran after the nuclear agreement.
The tragic events in Saudi Arabia which killed scores of Iranian Hajj pilgrims last week also overshadowed Iran’s diplomatic efforts lobbying for Syria and instead increased tension between Tehran and Riyadh.
Rowhani said he was cutting his New York trip short and canceled the meetings in order to attend the pilgrims’ funerals, but surprisingly, he didn’t cancel the gala dinner for Iranian Americans that he hosted on Sunday evening.
A failed trip
A few major Iranian hardline newspapers criticized the president for continuing his trip in the U.S. when the nation declared three days of national mourning, rather than returning immediately.
Meanwhile, some foreign diplomats believe Rowhani’s “failure of a trip” to the U.S. now will give him the opportunity to criticize Saudi Arabia on other issues further upon his arrival to Tehran.
Politicized or radicalized, President Rowhani’s attendance of the 70th General Assembly was supposed to be a turning point in Iran’s relations with the global powers and their foreign policies. It did not turn out as expected.
All hopes at this assembly of forming a coalition against ISIS, solving the refugee crisis and finding a solution Syria’s five years of war turned to ashes as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Rowhani refused the idea of Assad’s removal from power.
“We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad and his forces are truly fighting ISIS in Syria,” Putin said told the General Assembly on Monday.
If this is what Iran and Russia are sticking to, than I believe the future does not seem bright for international peace talks on Syria.
Only a week ago, many were predicting that President Obama and Rowhani would have an encounter at the U.N. to put decades of dispute behind them, but Iranians showed zero interest in this – an indication as the sign that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei hasn’t approved such a move yet.
And Obama did not forget to respond to Rowhani, whom in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes” earlier this month said: “Iranian 'Death to America' chants are aimed at U.S. policies, not the American people.”
At the U.N., Obama fired back: “Chanting “death to America” doesn’t create jobs or make Iran more secure.” Now, he knows a thing or two about that!
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard
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