Nasr al-Hariri, the head of the mainstream Syrian Negotiation Commission, praised Trump for the move, calling it “a step in the right direction” and saying that it provided “a real opportunity” to resolve regional issues involving Iran.
He told reporters: “There is no place in the world that feels very clearly the malignant influence of Iran as much as in Syria. This is a step in the right direction. But on its own it’s not enough to limit the influence of Iran in the area,”
These comments came shortly after Hariri’s meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who had flown to the US last week as part of a final attempt to convince Trump to remain in the deal.
Johnson, whose visit followed those by President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, had earlier told politicians that Britain regretted Trump’s decision and would continue to honour the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Hariri also urged the US to “spell out” its plans for tackling the Iranian Regime, adding that the White House should prioritise countering Iran’s support of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.
He said: “There is no way to solve the Iran problems without focusing on the Syria file. Iran had intervened very early on Syria, and we have reached a stage by which there is to a great extent an occupation by an external power.”
However, he cautioned against allowing Syria to become the battlefield for any conflict between Iran and the US.
He said: “This response needs to be part of a broad and strategic effort that protects civilians and resolves the conflict, as opposed to piecemeal actions. In this context, we do not approve of regional actors’ attempts to use Syria as a theatre for their national objectives.”
Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, which he has previously called the “worst deal ever”, on Tuesday after the fixes that he proposed in January were not agreed to by the European signatories to the deal.
He wanted the nuclear deal to be amended to include more robust inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, more restrictions on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, and the removal of so-called sunset clauses that would have allowed current restrictions to expire, possibly resulting in Iran having a nuclear bomb by 2024.