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Iranians Mock U.S. 'Bluff' On Syria

As talks between the Syrian regime and rebels continue in Switzerland, the "Iranian Question" isn't going away. Though Tehran, which is a key supporter of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, was barred from attending the Geneva 2 talks for refusing several pre-conditions, it has made its voice heard from back home.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister who is still a key adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Western powers were disrespecting Syrian sovereignty by forcing its government to talk with "supporters of terrorism, subordinates of foreign powers and extremists," referring to rebel representatives, the reformist daily Arman reported on Monday. "We think the Syrians should decide their own fate, and this should not be done by foreign states and parties that interfere in Syria's internal affairs without legal justification."

Another conservative politician Mohammad Nabi Habibi was even more direct, saying certain participants in talks in Geneva had "stained their hands with the blood of Syrians," the daily Kar va Kargar reported.

Habibi, who heads the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, said the United States' "bluff on a military option is ridiculous," as the Americans had already tasted "heavy defeat" with their interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

-Ahmad Shayegan

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Palestinians burn tires during a protest against the killing of 9 Palestinians during an Israeli raid in Jenin near the fence with Israel east of Gaza city on January 26, 2023.

Palestinians burn tires during a protest against the killing of nine Palestinians during an Israeli raid in Jenin on Jan. 26

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — The nine Palestinians killed during an Israeli military operation Thursday in the West Bank town of Jenin brings to 26 the number of deaths since the start of the year. This is a clear deterioration of conditions in the Palestinian territories after the year 2022 had already marked the highest number of victims since 2004 with 150 deaths.

This would appear to mark the return of a routine of low-intensity violence if the political context were not so explosive, where we see a new Israeli government in which key positions have been given to representatives of a virulent extreme right, hostile to any agreement with Palestinians, and keen to intensify any crackdowns.

The army sought to make it clear that the number of deaths in Jenin was not due to a change in military doctrine, but to the severity of the clash with members of the extremist Islamic Jihad group.

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