G7 Meeting on Syria: Double Message for Russia and Growing Tensions

On April 10- 11 in Lucca, Italy, heads of diplomacy of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar were invited for an extended G7 Foreign Ministers' session on Syria . These are Sunni countries, which want to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

As to the results of the meeting and what was discussed, nothing was officially announced. But unofficial talks with Italian sources, present at two-days meeting, create an impression that it was more a symbolic meeting without immediate concrete decisions.

In particular, the extended session was in the interest of the United States - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was present in Lucca. Washington wants to assert its influence over Sunni Arab countries ahead of negotiations on Syria, that Washington, despite the bellicose tones and missile attack against Al Shayrat air base, considers inevitable. The message, in short, was mainly for Russia, where Tillerson went immediately after the G7 meeting.

It is a double message: the US is back to the Middle East, after the apparent disinterest of President Donald Trump, and will stand on the side of "Sunni" platform, recognizing at the same time that Moscow is a key player in determining the future of Syria (and Assad).

In particular, on April 11 Tillerson seemed to hold consultations with his colleagues of the five Arab countries to get some sort of mandate for actions regarding Syria.

Just before the G7 meeting the Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, promoter of the enlarged session with 'guests from the Middle East', received a phone call from the Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, representative of Shiite interests in the region, and, as Russia, supporter of legitimacy of Assad until new elections. This may confirm the growing tensions between opposing alliances on Syria. And even within these alliances there are tensions: the final communiqué of the G7 meeting in Lucca points more to disagreements, than agreements on the Syrian issue and beyond it.

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