Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has renewed the call for a “political” solution to the bloody foreign-backed conflict in Syria, saying the Arab nation should decide its own fate at ballot boxes.
“What is of utmost importance is to understand that Syria doesn’t have a military solution. And the Syrians’ problems must certainly be resolved politically. Only politically,” Rouhani said in an interview with NBC television news network on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
He noted that Syria’s territorial integrity must be preserved, and that Syrian people themselves must decide the political future of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The rule of the ballot box and the rule of the Syrian people and the will of the Syrian people should be the sole determinant of the future of the country,” the Iranian president pointed out.
Rouhani further condemned the United States over airstrikes on a Syrian military air base in the country’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr on September 17, which left at least 62 Syrian soldiers dead and a hundred others injured.
He also dismissed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s demand that Russia and the Syrian government halt anti-terror flights over Syrian battle zones, stressing that such a measure will empower the Takfiri Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front) terrorist outfits on the ground.
“They must be kept under pressure. If we ground planes, it would 100 percent benefit them,” Rouhani pointed out.
Turning to the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, Rouhani criticized the US Treasury Department for making it hard for banks and other financial institutions to do business with Iran.
‘No single state can scrap JCPOA’
The Iranian president also slammed US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over their criticism of the nuclear agreement, underscoring that no single country, or president, could unravel the accord.
“Candidates can bring up any topic that they see best suits their campaigns. No one can say here or there that ‘I don’t accept this agreement, I want to renegotiate’,” Rouhani noted.
Under the nuclear deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and was struck in July 2015, Tehran has agreed to roll back certain aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.
However, months into the JCPOA’s implementation, Tehran says that the promised economic benefits have yet to materialize, and that it still does not have access to global financial markets.
Many international banks still shy away from financing trade deals and processing transactions for fear of US penalties.