Iran is joining talks on Syira in Vienna today

Talks between the main regional players begin today in Vienna but do not include the Syrian Government or the opposition.

Obviously Iran sides with the Syrian predominantly Shia government and Saudi Arabia sides with the predominantly Sunni opposition. It is difficult to see what common ground they share other than seeking an end to the conflict, Iran see’s president Assad as the legitimate leader, Saudi Arabia says that Assad must step aside before any transition can take place.

It remains to be seen how malleable the opposing views are and whether they can be shaped into a shared outlook. However given Iran and Saudi Arabia’s long standing struggle and individual strategic interests in the region, it seems unlikely that they will want to give too much away.

The US policy towards Syria’s president Assad has made a 180 degree turn that now states that Assad could remain for a transitional period but must go eventually. This was a suggestion first made by Russia back in 2012 but was ignored by the US.

The starting point of both sides is all important and will dictate progress going forward.

  • Youtube video BBC News (29 Oct 2015) – Saudi FM: No doubt Syria’s President Assad will go:

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari arrives in Vienna for talks:

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