Why is Iran backing Syria?

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Was the nuclear deal a mistake? Why has Iran continued to back Syria’s Bashar al-Assad more than six years into the war?

This week, in New York, UpFront‘s Mehdi Hasan spoke to Mohammad Javad Zarif, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, about the United States exiting the nuclear deal, his country’s involvement in the war in Syria, and democracy in Iran, the future of the nuclear deal and its relationship with the US under Donald Trump.

Asked about the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Zarif said: “The nuclear deal is the best the United States can get, and it’s the best Iran can get, and it’s the best the international community can get.”

The nuclear deal is the best the United States can get, and it’s the best Iran can get, and it’s the best the international community can get

Javad Zarif , Iranian foreign minister

“We’re not actually eager to meet with [US President Trump] because the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner,” Zarif told UpFront host Mehdi Hasan.

“They were always saying that we want a treaty with Iran. Now they just withdrew from the [1955 Treaty of Amity] that we have with the United States because the International Court of Justice ruled against them,” Zarif added. “That tells you that whatever you negotiate with this president and with this administration, they’re not going to be bound by it.”

Asked if Iran will ever meet with President Trump or members of his administration, Zarif responded, “In politics, never say never. But I believe that there is need for a serious change in the administration”.

Speaking about the Iran nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of in May 2018, Zarif reaffirmed his support for the JCPOA.

“We believe it’s a deal that is in the interest of the international community,” he said.

“Iran has given the Europeans some time, because they asked us for some time to try to compensate for US departure from the nuclear deal,” he added. “That means that Iran needs to receive the economic dividends of the deal.”

I condemn anybody using chemical weapons… We condemn any attacks against civilians no matter who does it

Javad Zarif , Iranian foreign minister

Zarif was also asked to comment on Bashar Al-Assad’s alleged war crimes and use of chemical weapons in Syria’s ongoing civil war.

“I condemn anybody using chemical weapons,” he said.

“We condemn any attacks against civilians no matter who does it.”

On domestic affairs, Zarif was asked whether Iran should be considered a democracy if it’s ultimately been ruled by a Supreme Leader for twenty-nine years.

“Some people lead countries, democratic countries for longer than that,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean that they’re not a democracy”.

“[The Supreme Leader] can be removed any day by a body that elected him. And that body was elected by the people,” he added.

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.

Source: Al Jazeera

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