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Engaging Iran in Syria

Bottom Line: The Syrian army has resumed its offensive with renewed vigor after the US backed down from a decision to strike Syria and accept a Russian diplomatic solution in the form of chemical weapons inspections, but there is more to this than meets the eye: There are indirect talks with Iran, and what appears to have been a failed rebel offensive launched from Jordan.

Analysis: Washington is bringing Tehran into the diplomatic Syrian cocktail, envisioning the use of Iran to actually promote a regime chance peacefully in Syria, once it is clear that Assad no longer has legitimacy, which would ostensibly be done via the chemical weapons inspections. In the midst of this, we learn that there was a defining incident right before the US backed down on a Syria strike: Reports are emerging that the US and other “foreign forces” sponsored a major rebel offensive launched from Jordan and intended to reach Damascus, which failed miserably, right before the US made its decision over whether to launch a strike on Syria. The rebels appear to have suffered considerable losses in this failed operation.

Recommendation: US-Iranian direct diplomatic engagement is gaining significant traction, so too is engagement between Western Europe and Iran. (Indeed, Iran already claims to be holding talks with an unnamed European country for gas supplies.) Over the weekend, an influential Iranian official (head of the parliamentary national security and foreign policy commission)…

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