Mehdi Sanayee is a senior Iranian legislator. He's a National Security and Foreign Policy Commission member. He's also a Russian expert.
He told FNA:
"Causing developments through military intervention and remaining empty-handed in the developments in Syria are Moscow's red lines."
Deploying Russian forces represents a "new step" in the Syrian conflict.
"Russia tries to prove on the international scene that it is committed to its strategy, which is opposition to and confrontation against foreign military intervention and unilateral moves in Syria to show that it has not surrendered on them," he said.
He referred to Vladimir Putin's earlier comments. They suggested Moscow's new position. It remains to be seen what follows.
Patrick Seale is a longtime Middle East analyst. On January 1, he offered grim new year tidings. "The coming year" won't be "happy" for "the tormented Middle East," he said.
"(T)he balance sheet of the past two years remains profoundly negative." Nowhere throughout the region have "convincing sign(s) of peace and reconciliation" emerged.
Some countries suffered more than others. He called the "Palestine cause".all but lost. The two-state solution is virtually extinct." He stopped short of saying it's been that way for years.
He stressed the importance of preserving a "unitary Syrian state." Doing so is essential to "containing Israel." Resolving the conflict militarily can't succeed.
The only solution is mutually agreed on ceasefire, halting weapons and funding sent insurgents, "isolat(ing) murderous extremists," and resolving the conflict politically.
At issue isn't whether Assad stays or goes. Syria is vitally important. It's essential to protect its "unique historical heritage, its state institutions, its ancient minorities, and its vital role in the defense of Arab independence."
"Syria wants peace and reconciliation," he stressed. At the same time, "(a)rmed groups must halt terrorist acts." Outside forces direct them.
They're "terrorists" and "criminals." They want Syria's government ousted. He vowed to defeat them. He called for "full national mobilization."