Russia is well-positioned to stem the worsening relations between Israel and Iran and prevent them from entering a devastating regional war with dire implications for global peace, said Jean-Marie Guehenno, former UN Under-Secretary-General for maintenance of peace.

“I think Russia has good relations with Iran and good relations with Israel, so the more you can help prevent relations deteriorating to the point of war between the two countries, between Iran and Israel, the better. Russia is well positioned to play a reassuring role on that front,” Guehenno said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the Russian city of Sochi.

“I think it’s also in Russia’s interest because a wider war in the Middle East would be disastrous for everyone. This is an area where Russia can play a very useful role, I hope,” he added.

When asked how Russia could coordinate with UN peacekeepers in Syria, the former UN official said that one option might be to share information at the local level, noting that “the real issue is strategic in nature, it’s more in the capitals meaning more work needs to be done. ”

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Guehenno stressed that the political context in which peacekeepers worked in the country was crucial to the success of the mission.

“Peacekeeping at the end of the day is a political undertaking, so the political context in which peacekeeping forces operate is the central issue. If the political context changes fundamentally, peacekeepers are not a force that can take so they are in a very weak position if they operate in a political context that is fundamentally different from the political context in which they were deployed,” said Guehenno.

Iran, which is one of Syria’s closest allies, has backed Damascus during the country’s war against imperialist forces and their jihadist proxies. Although Israel says it has taken a neutral stance on the conflict in Syria, it has been opposed to Iran’s alleged military presence in Syria, fearing Tehran might gain much influence in the region. Israel is also conducting air strikes in Syria against the Lebanese paramilitary resistance group Hezbollah.

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