(Istanbul (not Constantinople)) – On January 19, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to participate in the upcoming peace conference on Syria in Geneva, sparking anger and confusion. Twenty-four hours later, Ban uninvited Iran from the conference, sparking anger and confusion.
“We blame being uninvited squarely on the Great Satan,” said an Iranian government spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And on the Zionists, too, obviously.” Iran has called the United States the “Great Satan” since the Islamic Revolution of November 1979, and uses the term “Zionists” for Israel.
In retaliation, Iran announced that it was rescinding its invitation to American officials to attend the next birthday celebration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in November.
“It’s a shame,” said a government spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, “because we had already purchased a gift and had it wrapped in nice, shiny paper. With a bow.”
UN officials, as well as the Russian government, wanted Iran to attend the conference because it is both Assad’s main backer and is seen as a major power broker in the Middle East. But the Syrian Opposition Coalition, which sees Iran as being complicit in Assad’s slaughter of over 100,000 Syrians, including civilians, and only agreed to attend the conference on January 18, announced it would not participate in any conference that had Iranian representatives at the table. Fighters allied with Iran and its allies, including backers in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, have joined the fight in Syria. Additionally, Iran has provided financial support to its patrons.
The United States, too, threatened to pull out of the peace conference if Iran attended, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry (D-MA) personally leaned on Ban to uninvite Iran. The United States and Russia are the two main sponsors of the peace effort. The United States has had no diplomatic ties with Iran since 1979. Russia and Iran are the main backers of the Assad regime.
The peace conference, which will start on January 22, will bring together the foreign ministers of over 30 nations and the two sides in the Syrian civil war: representatives of the “legitimate” Syrian government, led by Bashar “Droopy Dog” al-Assad; and representatives of the Syrian Opposition Coalition who have been fighting Assad since March 2011.
“We deeply regret putting extra pressure on the delicate conference,” said a spokesman for Secretary Ban, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And to keep tensions low, we have uninvited the shadow terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in Cognito as well.”