Report: Iran and Russia at Odds Over Future of Syria’s Assad
Points of contention have begun to emerge between Russia and Iran over Syria, Saudi-owned pan-Arab news channel Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), recently called into question Russia’s commitment to the political survival of Syrian President Bashar Assad, one of Iran’s most important proxies.
Referring dryly to Russia as “the northern friend,” Jafari accused Moscow of arriving late on the scene in Syria, and only then in pursuit of its own interests. He said that Russia, unlike Iran, “is not concerned with Assad’s survival,” stressing that Iran sees no alternative to the current Syrian leader.
Al Arabiya also reported that Syria’s state-run Arab News Agency (SANA) refused to publish Jafari’s critique of Russia, opting instead to only quote the IRGC commander’s claim of Iran’s non-intervention in the internal affairs of its neighbors.
Meanwhile, Israeli news website nrg reported on Tuesday that Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow does not view it as vital to Syria’s interests to have Assad remain in power.
When asked about the issue in relation to Russian foreign policy, Zakharova replied, “…We are not saying that Assad should leave or stay.”