Kofi Annan will find it hard to prise Iran away from its Syrian ally

Kofi Annan is likely have his work cut out persuading the Iranian leadership to change tack on Syria as he heads to Tehran next week.

President Bashar al-Assad's own atttitude towards Annan's six-point peace plan is confused — perhaps deliberately.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's foreign minister, has been positive about it but also warned against "hasty decisions about Syria" and "leaving a power vacuum in Syria will jeopardize the peace and security of the entire region."

That sounds more like a lightly-coded endorsement of the status quo than support for regime change by negotiations.

Tehran has consistently denied helping Assad crush the uprising, but few are convinced. Iranian security and communications experts are reported by multiple sources to be advising the Syrians, drawing on the Iranian experience of crushing the 2009 election protests. Syrian riot police use equipment I last saw on the streets of Tehran.

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