Select language / زبان خود را انتخاب کنيد

Iranian state-controlled media and the ‘failures’ of Geneva II

Iranian state-controlled media were filled with an extensive coverage of the ‘failure’ of the Geneva II international conference on Syria. Many Iranian news agencies implied that Iran’s absence was a reason for this ‘failure’, arguing that the only ‘hope’ for the world that the negotiations may bring about was to ‘unite’ in putting an end to ‘terrorism’.

On 16 February 2014, Fars News reported that England and France had blamed the Syrian regime for the failure of Geneva II in reaching a meaningful conclusion, mainly because the regime avoided any discussion of a transitional government in Syria.(1)

Yet the ‘main reason’ for the failure of the negotiations was presented by Iranian news agencies as something totally different: the threat of ‘takfiri terrorism’, which they claimed was not only a danger to Syria and Iran but to the US and its allies as well.

The problem, according to the Jomhoori Eslami newspaper, is one of ‘priorities’: while ‘war on terrorism’ was supposedly the high-priority demand of the Syrian government, the Syrian opposition wanted to discuss the transitional government and putting an end to violence. Jomhoori Eslami thus claimed that the priority should be discussing the threat of terrorism first.(2)

The Russian foreign minister Lavrov had made a similar point about terrorism being the main concern.(3) Fars 24 highlighted Lavrov’s speech blaming the failure of the Geneva negotiations on the opposition’s delegation.(4)

Similar claims about priorities were made by the official Iranian news agency IRNA. Meanwhile, the UN special envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi insisted, on the first day of the second round of the negotiations, that the priority was putting an end to the conflicts and forming a transitional government.

On 17 February 2014, Tasnim news agancy quoted Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi claiming that the failure of the negotiations had been exaggerated by Western countries. The following day, Jomhouri Eslami and Siasate Ruz followed suit and reiterated Tasnim’s report.(5)

It is not clear where the official Iranian ‘hopes’ in a political settlement stem from. What is sure is that the supposed war on Islamist terrorism is highly propagated by the Syrian and Iranian regimes as the main problem and the main solution for Syria’s crisis. Not ending the violence or forming a transitional government. For example, in a detailed report on the effects of the new military campaign in Yebroud, Fars News reiterated that the main reason for the negotiations’ failure was ‘terrorism’ and not the Syrian regime’s attitude.(6)

Moreover, the failure is blamed on all the other actors’ being ‘unreasonable’ and ‘illogical’. For instance, Iranian newspapers such as Siasate Ruz linked the failure of the Geneva negotiations to the West’s intervention and “its refusal to accept any logic”. Of course, logic here refers to the Iranian government’s logic.

Things become clearer when one considers what other papers such as Jame Jam and Etela’at reported on 18 February, in the middle of the second round of the negotiations.(7) They highlighted a speech by Sardar Soleimani, the chief commander of Sepah Qods, saying the “success” of Iran in Syria was due to “Iran’s logic”. Again, what can this logic be except using the war on terrorism smokescreen to hide their war against the Syrian people?

It seems that this manipulation of public opinion functions merely to buy more time for the Assad regime. It is reasonable, therefore, to think that the Syrian government’s delegation did not really come to Geneva to reach a solution but to prolonged the negotiation process. The Iran government seems to have played a role in this failure even though it was officially absent. One can only now understand what Iranian officials meant when they said two weeks ago that the negotiations would fail if Iran was not invited.

(1) and
(4), page 7
(5), page 16; and , page 8.
(7) and

Leave a Reply