Navigating the Steps for Steps Approach with Iran’s Ambassador to Syria: Who Should Begin With the First Step?

In an exclusive conversation with Athr Press, the Iranian Ambassador to Syria, Hossein Akbari, shed light on the discussions surrounding the "step for step" approach with the UN's Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen

In an exclusive conversation with Athr Press, the Iranian Ambassador to Syria, Hossein Akbari, shed light on the discussions surrounding the “step for step” approach with the UN’s Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen. Akbari revealed that Pedersen has yet to outline a concrete plan for implementing this strategy.

Akbari elaborated, “The ‘step for step’ proposal, introduced by UN representative Mr. Pedersen, came about before Syria’s reintegration into the Arab League, first proposed in Jordan. However, the specifics of the plan, including who should initiate the process, remain undefined.”

He added, “Even in my inquiries with Mr. Pedersen during his visits to the embassy, he admitted the absence of a structured program for the proposal. Furthermore, Arab nations have yet to formally acknowledge this strategy.”

Highlighting the enduring bond between Iran and Syria, Akbari noted, “For four decades, the Syrian-Iranian relationship has been anchored in strategic partnership. Despite external pressures, our alliance remains steadfast, characterized by robust political and security cooperation at the behest of the Syrian government.”

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The “Step for Step” initiative has captured the attention of analysts and sparked widespread speculation, particularly regarding the potential reduction of Iranian influence in Syria.

Following Syria’s reinstatement into the Arab League last May—a decision made during a summit in Amman involving Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt—the meeting’s agenda focused on three main areas: the repatriation of Syrian refugees, the political framework of the Constitutional Committee, and the “Step for Step” initiative. The discussions also touched on enhancing border security and curtailing smuggling activities through improved military and security coordination with neighbouring states.

Recent developments have seen a significant diplomatic rapprochement between Arab nations and Syria, marked by the elevation of the UAE’s diplomatic representation in Damascus with the arrival of Ambassador Hassan Ahmed Al-Shehhi. Reports from the Syrian newspaper “Al-Watan” also hint at the imminent reopening of the Saudi embassy in Damascus.

In a testament to the strengthening Syrian-Iranian ties, the two countries have recently inked a series of agreements spanning the economic, commercial, military, and defence sectors. A notable highlight was the signing of 15 memorandums of understanding in various fields during Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s visit to Syria last March.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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