Iraq will be present at the next meeting about Syria in Astana as an observer, Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim said yesterday.
This follows an announcement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 1 August that Iraq will be joining other official observers such as Lebanon, Jordan and UN representatives in a bid to help solve the crisis in Syria. The Astana process established by Russia, Iran and Turkey is a rival to the UN-led peace process.
It is believed that Iraq’s participation will serve to be a bridge when disagreements arise between member states and substantiates Baghdad’s ambitions to become a future regional mediator, with its sights set on facilitating Iranian and Saudi dialogue.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is currently in Iraq and met with his counterpart Al-Hakim in Baghdad to discuss their shared stance on ensuring Syria’s territorial integrity and the need for Damascus to return to the Arab League. Lavrov then made his first visit to Iraqi Kurdistan to meet with Kurdish officials including former President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani.
The Russian delegation, which includes representatives from Russia’s biggest energy companies, arrived in the country amid widespread anti-government protests in the capital and the south.