Last week’s summit in Tehran was an opportunity for the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey to showcase their joint efforts to end the seven-year war in Syria. Rather than a show of unity and cooperation, however, it was a demonstration of separation and disagreement.

Shamelessly, the three presidents discussed the imminent fate of three million people in Idlib province, and the future of Syria in general, without the presence of a single Syrian at the negotiating table.

Unusually, in Iran, where such high-level political events take place behind closed doors, the meeting was broadcast live on state TV. Iranians were therefore able to witness the differences in opinion between the three men who hold the keys to Syria’s future, and to see at first hand the consequences of meddling in the affairs of other countries — which the Tehran regime does, while making ordinary Iranians foot the bill.

The meeting showed what failures these three leaders are, although at least Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey spoke honestly. He did not hide the fact that the three countries have different interests in Syria, and that those of Iran and Russia do not match Turkey’s.

Vladimir Putin called for the “total annihilation of terrorists in Syria,” while Hassan Rouhani focused on reconstruction and the need for Syria’s displaced to return home.

Meanwhile Turkey, which backed opposition forces, fears a flood of refugees fleeing a military offensive and widespread destabilization that would harm its national security.

Iraq is a perfect example of what happens when the Tehran regime interferes in matters that are none of its business, and without the support of the Iranian people.

Camelia Entekhabifard

Tehran and Moscow want to attack Idlib and wipe the remaining terrorists off the Syrian map — in effect conducting a massacre so that they can claim victory in the war on behalf of the Assad regime.

The UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura estimates that there are 10,000 terrorists in Idlib. To wipe them out, however that is achieved, would cause huge civilian casualties and displace hundreds of thousands of people, even with the Turkish and Jordanian borders closed. A simple calculation shows this battle will not be as simple as the Iranians and Russians seem to think.

Meanwhile, if the regime in Tehran requires a lesson in what happens when you meddle in another country’s affairs, it need only look across the border to Iraq.

Since Saddam Hussein was deposed, Iran has spent billions on trying to cement its position in Iraq, and influence elections in its favor. What has all that money and interference bought? Ask the people of southern Iraq, where polluted water, electricity shortages and political corruption are laid squarely at the door of Iran, to the extent that the Iranian consulate in Basra was attacked by protesters last Friday.

Iraqis see all the political failures and mismanagement in their country as having been caused by Iranian interference. The same will happen in Syria. Money cannot buy people’s hearts, or win their permanent friendship.

Iraq is a perfect example of what happens when the Tehran regime interferes in matters that are none of its business, and without the support of the Iranian people.

  • Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist

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