Iran, Israel conduct indirect negotiations over Syria fighting: Report

According to a Saudi-owned website’s report, Jordan shuttled between parties during weekend negotiations at hotel

28 May 2018

Iran and Israel engaged in indirect negotiations this weekend over fighting in southwest Syria, according to a report on Saudi-owned news site Elaph.

Iran reportedly pledged to stay out of fighting in southwest Syria between Syrian forces and rebel groups while Israel said it will not intervene in battles near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights or the Israel-Jordan border so long as Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias are not involved.

For the negotiations, Iran’s ambassador to Jordan, Mostafa Moslehzadeh, stayed in a hotel room with Iranian security personnel next door to a room of senior Israeli security officials, including the deputy head of Mossad, Elaph reported.

Jordanian officials served as mediator, shuttling messages between the two rooms, according to the report.

One participant told Elaph that the Iranians “arrived at a quick agreement” that its forces would not intervene in fighting near the Golan Heights and the Israel-Jordan border, surprising the Israeli representatives.

Southern Syria is expected to be among the next targets as the resurgent Syrian government pushes to recapture territory lost during the seven-year war.

On Friday, Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on the southern province of Daraa, urging rebels who control most the area to lay down their weapons or face an offensive.

Israel takes issue with any broad operation in the area, suspecting Damascus’s Iranian allies of seeking to establish a military footprint closer to its borders. Israel has warned Iran of the potential for conflict if it sends forces to southern Syria.

According to Elaph, Iran may have been willing to negotiate with Israel this weekend as a result of losses Tehran has sustained in recent Israeli attacks in Syria.

Non-Syrian Troops Must Depart S De-Escalation Zone As Soon As Possible – Lavrov


The United States was counting on a total confrontation with Iran by leaving the nuclear deal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said speaking at the Primakov Readings.

The withdrawal of all non-Syrian troops from Syria’s southwestern de-escalation zone should take place as soon as possible, Lavrov said.

“As regards the confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria, we have agreements on the southwestern de-escalation zone, these agreements have been reached between Russia, the United States and Jordan. Israel was informed about them as we were working on them. They [agreements] stipulate that this de-escalation zone should consolidate stability, while all non-Syrian forces must be withdrawn from this area. And I think that this should happen as soon as possible,” Lavrov said at the Primakov Readings international think tank summit.

“I remember the apocalyptic predictions of the 1980s about a ‘nuclear winter,'” he said. “Fortunately, it did not come to pass, although the ‘Arab Spring’ came, which, through a series of tragic events, also exacerbated the problem of weapons of mass destruction.”

“I am referring to the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program with the view of organizing a total confrontation with Iran, and many staged situations involving the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government aimed at changing the regime in Damascus,” Lavrov added.

READ MORE: Iran Leader Asks UN to Investigate US Human Rights Violations

Moscow would like US foreign policy to be more predictable, Sergei Lavrov said.

“Factors and actors influence Washington’s foreign policy and not just always in one direction, but very often in the very opposite. And colossal shares of foreign policy decisions in Washington are taken with an eye to the domestic political situation. And the closer the midterm elections, the more it will be manifested,” Lavrov said.

On May 8, US President Donald Trump announced that his country would exit the 2015 JCPOA, which provided for the gradual lifting of the anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s maintaining the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. Besides, Trump decided to reinstate the previously lifted sanctions on Iran.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union after long and intense negotiations. Tehran has repeatedly stated that it would give a harsh response if Washington departs from the JCPOA commitments.

The two-day Primakov Readings forum kicked off on Tuesday. This year, 65 internationally renowned foreign experts from 22 countries, along with 600 Russian politicians, diplomats, businessmen and experts take part in the summit.