Kofi Annan, the UN’s special envoy has traveled to Iran to ask it for help with the fast deteriorating situation in Syria, the AP reports.
“Iran, given its special relations with Syria, can be part of the solution,” Annan said during a news conference with Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
Annan’s peace plan seems to be quickly losing its appeal with the Syrian government. While it initially agreed to a ceasefire, which is supposed to begin on Thursday morning at 6 a.m., reports from within the country say fighting continues on the ground, with government forces still on the offensive, according to CNN. Cities like Homs continue to be bombed, and troops have not been pulled back. Nine thousand people have died so far, the UN says.
Annan’s decision to involved Iran shows he is not completely confident of his peace plan’s success. Iran’s Shiite government has long been one of Syria’s strongest allies in the region, Time reports. Although Syria is predominantly Sunni Muslim, its ruling family is part of a Shiite sect.
But Iran will definitely not directly interfere in the crisis. Its foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, has insisted that Syria be given time to implement reforms, and any change in Syria should come under Assad’s leadership, Al Jazeera reports. “The government of Bashar al-Assad has promised change to meet the demands of the people… and in fact the opportunity must be given to the Syrian government,” Salehi said.
Annan has also rejected the idea of outside military intervention proposed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who want to arm the Syrian rebels against the better-equipped government forces. “The geopolitical location of Syria is such that any miscalculation and error can have unimaginable consequences,” Annan said.
It’s also unlikely that Iran will be very effective in exerting its influence or pressure on Syria, given that in 2009, the government in Tehran also used brute force to quell protests following the allegedly rigged presidential elections.