Iran's envoy in Jordan: Support for Hezbollah maintains Arab security | Editor's Choice | Ammon News

Iran's envoy in Jordan: Support for Hezbollah maintains Arab security

[12/15/2017 2:02:52 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Iranian Ambassador to Jordan Mojtaba Ferdosipour has chosen the map of Palestine as a centerpiece for his office, along with a Dome of the Rock miniature. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Ferdosipour said he believes Palestine represents a compass for regional issues, all of which should point toward “one enemy, Israel.”

“Yet,” Ferdosipour said, “this compass has lost its bearings in recent years, after Arab governments replaced Israel with Iran as their enemy.” He also asserted that many Arab peoples do not agree with their leaders in terms of discarding this compass and normalizing relations with Israel.

Iran “does not want to take control of the Arab capitals,” he said, dismissing the Nov. 19 Arab League foreign ministers meeting, which concluded that Iran's missiles are threatening Arab capitals. The Arab League conclusion was in response to the Houthis launching ballistic missiles at Riyadh on Nov. 4. Ferdosipour denied allegations that Iran was supporting Houthis in Sanaa and supplying them with missiles, but on the other hand said Iran is proud of its support for Lebanese Hezbollah in confronting Israel.

Ferdosipour previously served as director of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East Department and as charge d'affaires in Amman. He also served in the latter capacity in Beirut prior to assuming his current post, in August 2014.

The ambassador said that rumors about his mandate coming to an end were simply that, adding that the Council of Ministers needs to approve any extension of his mandate.

Al-Monitor interviewed Ferdosipour Nov. 22 at his office in Amman and followed up by phone. A transcript of that interview, slightly edited for clarity, follows.

Al-Monitor: Do you expect the Sochi summit, which brought together Iran, Turkey and Russia on Nov. 22, to produce progress in the negotiations on the conflict in Syria?

Ferdosipour: The Sochi summit came against the backdrop of a previous agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran to find solutions to the Syrian crisis, which established the course of the Astana negotiations. The Sochi summit follows the same course and aims to harvest the fruits of the efforts put into anti-terrorism operations, particularly in Abu Kamal and other areas plagued by terrorists and the Islamic State (IS). This is the beginning of a new chapter for the political solution and the start of joint negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Al-Monitor: Why were countries like the US, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which are actively involved in the Syrian crisis, absent from the Sochi summit?

Ferdosipour: The summit came after a tripartite agreement was reached [in December 2016] between Russia, Turkey and Iran in Moscow [to sponsor an agreement between the Syrian regime and the opposition]. If some parties were not present, this does not mean they are absent from the consensus. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to leaders from Egypt, the US and Saudi Arabia over the phone. Communication channels are always open between all parties when it comes to reaching political solutions after military operations.

Al-Monitor: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Lebanon on Nov. 21 after announcing his resignation [as prime minister] from Saudi Arabia, accusing Iran of spreading violence in the region. However, reports suggested that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign after his rapprochement with Iran. What do you think about this?

Ferdosipour: The media highlighted the fact that Hariri's resignation was forced upon him by Saudi Arabia. What we heard during the resignation speech were either forced or politicized words. It is important for us to hear the right words without any kind of coercion.

It is our policy in Lebanon to communicate with all parties. When the senior adviser to the supreme leader on international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, last visited Lebanon, on Nov. 3, he held a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri at the presidential palace, during which many common issues were put forward. Hariri himself was even supportive of the Iranian ideas regarding a solution for the Syrian crisis. This seems to have upset some parties, and Hariri was indeed forced into resigning because of a political stance and not because of financial corruption, as some reported.

Over the past decades we have tried to keep our relationship with all parties in Lebanon flexible, and we have always believed that supporting security and stability in Lebanon can only be achieved by supporting all parties in the political arena, without leaving out any religion or sect, or else we would be making a big mistake.

Those who think that Hezbollah should be pushed out of the [Lebanese] political arena and marginalized are mistaken. We advise all regional parties to realize that maintaining Lebanon's security and stability can only happen if all concerned parties reach a single vision and cooperate to strengthen their relations. All foreign parties need to support this idea.


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