Press TV has interviewed James Jatras, a former US Senate foreign policy analyst, in Washington, about a meeting between Russian, US, Saudi and Turkish diplomats to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: What a turn of events the past 48 hours have been, I mean from the Vienna meeting that did not seem like much of a big deal, the few major turning points. Russia saying that now it is in deep coordination with the US, giving air power to the so-called Free Syrian Army which at this point it was understood that Russia did not differentiate between moderate or any other kind of terrorists and then almost immediately calling for parliamentary and presidential elections?
Jatras: That is right. And let’s not forget that President Putin himself has said that President Assad has approved Russian air support for Free Syrian Army or any other genuine Syrian moderates that are fighting against the Daesh. So this could be the opening for real political dialogue and a real political settlement.
At the same time however, it is clear that some of our so-called allies - notably the Saudis - are dumping more and more weapons into the war zone in the hopes of keeping the fires burning. I think the essential point is that outside powers cannot dictate the political arrangements within Syria. We need to have a dialogue and a political agreement among Syrians themselves.
Press TV: Well it is interesting that you say that some of these allies are still providing weapons but if Russia and the US have agreed on this deep coordination as they call it, shouldn’t other parties also be convinced so that they should all be on the same page or are we looking still at different interests here, most common being Assad needs to leave and that is why they are providing these weapons?
Jatras: You still see that Assad needs to leave from people who are in a very weak position to make a demand on anything. ‘Oh, well, we can accept that he will be part of the transition but eventually he must go.’ The trouble with the American policy is that we have a very weak formulation of what our own interests are and rather than having our so-called clients like Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the [Persian] Gulf states follow our lead, it seems that the opposite is the case, that they stake out their position, they insist on it and the American officials sort of waffle around, wondering how they should deal with these very troublesome, very insistent so-called allies. It really seems like the tail wags the dog.
Press TV: And finally, within the context of Russia’s announcement from that Vienna meeting, came the fact that Iran and Egypt should come and help with the political process saying that the next meeting is going to involve Iran. What is your take on that statement?
Jatras: Well of course Iran has to be part of the process. I think it would be very helpful that Egypt be part of the process. It appears even Jordan is willing to take another look at its interest in the region and the benefits of the Russian campaign there.
The real problem I think remains the [Persian] Gulf states, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. They have got to be part of the solution but right now they are still part of the problem.