Iran Won’t Take Part in Syria Summit

Tehran snubs U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's suggestion that it participate from the ‘sidelines’

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv January 6, 2014.

Iran’s government has rejected a U.S. offer to participate in the upcoming Syrian summit in Switzerland. Reuters reports that the move is a snub to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggestion earlier this week that Tehran could play a constructive role “from the sidelines.”

The U.N.-backed Geneva 2 peace summit is set to convene on Jan. 22 and will host representatives of the Syrian opposition and President Bashar Assad’s government, with the aim of brokering an end to a bitter civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions.

Iran has thrown money and arms behind Assad’s embattled government in a bid to keep in power one of their chief allies in the Middle East.

According to Reuters, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that in order to participate in Switzerland Iran would effectively have to endorse the terms agreed during the “Geneva I” conference in 2012. These include creating a transitional government in Syria without Assad.

During a statement broadcast on Iranian state television on Monday, Tehran appeared to bristle at the proposal.

“In order to take part in the Geneva 2 conference, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept any proposal which does not respect its dignity,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham said.

While the U.S. and Russia have gone to great links to orchestrate the summit, analysts concede that a massive breakthrough would be needed to seriously alter the realities on the ground in Syria, where myriad forces, funded by regional governments and non-state actors from across the Middle East, clash on several fronts.