Russia Flexes It Muscles In Syria — With the Help of Iran

Date:

The Iranian constitution does not allow stationing of foreign troops on its soil but Tehran solved this problem by stating that it was only allowing Russian jets to refuel.  Moscow has also been granted permission to fire cruise missiles over Iranian and Iraqi territories from its ships in the Caspian. On Friday, August 19, 2016, Russia fired cruise missiles into Syria from its warships in the Mediterranean. It is not clear whether the Americans were informed in advance about these flights from Iran, or if the international coalition was consulted before carrying out missile attacks from the sea. What is obvious is that the Russians have sidelined the US while they carry out indiscriminate bombings of Syrian civilians on behalf of their ally Assad.

ATIF SHAMIM SYED | Caravan Daily

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Tuesday August 16, 2016, Russian bombers took off from an airbase in north western Iran and carried out attacks in Syria. Though Russia has been flying jets over the country since last September, this was the first time it used Iranian territory for the purpose. However, the most surprising aspect of this operation was that it was also the first time since 1979 that a foreign military power has been allowed to park its assets within the Islamic Republic.

The Iranian constitution does not allow stationing of foreign troops on its soil but Tehran solved this problem by stating that it was only allowing Russian jets to refuel.  The Iranian air base offers a tactical advantage to the Russians since it will allow their jets to carry more payload within a reduced flight time.  Moscow has also been granted permission to fire cruise missiles over Iranian and Iraqi territories from its ships in the Caspian. On Friday, August 19, 2016, Russia fired cruise missiles into Syria from its warships in the Mediterranean.

It is not clear whether the Americans were informed in advance about these flights from Iran, or if the international coalition was consulted before carrying out missile attacks from the sea. What is obvious is that the Russians have sidelined the US while they carry out indiscriminate bombings of Syrian civilians on behalf of their ally Assad.

Negotiations over joint American and Russian operations in Syria have been going on for weeks without any concrete results. The attacks from Iranian airbases may be a subtle manifestation of Russia’s growing impatience with the never ending talks, and reminding Americans that they have other options available in the Middle East. If the Americans are not ready, they are willing to work with other powers in the region.

Last September, when Russians started their bombing campaign in Syria, American and European diplomats secretly hoped that they will sideline Iran and its proxies in Syria, and compel Bashar Al Assad to become more open towards Western peace initiatives. But the latest upgrade in coordination between Russia and Iran suggests that no one has been sidelined. Infact, Russian seems to be getting closer to the Syria-Iran alliance – a fact that could doom the America-backed rebellion.

It would seem that the US has been outfoxed at its own game. First of all it was the Iran nuclear deal that was signed in the hope that it will bring Iran back into the international fold, and the vast Persian market will finally open up for business with the West. However, as soon as sanctions began to lift, Russia rushed into the scene with some lucrative arms deals while its largest oil company, Lukoil sought ways to enter Iran’s oil and gas sector.

Dynamics of Russia-Iran partnership

Iran is the staunchest ally of Bashar Al Assad. If it wasn’t for Iran, the Assad regime will not have been able to survive this long. Iran not only supplies Assad with badly-needed money, it also provides fighters who are battling the rebels on several fronts.

Russia intervened in the civil war in September 2015 at the behest of Bashar Al Assad. While Iran-backed fighters form the backbone of the regime’s fighting force on the ground, the Russians offer them air cover and intelligence, and most importantly, diplomatic cover.

Though it may seem that both Russia and Iran have identical goals in Syria, the actual circumstance may be somewhat, different. For Iran, keeping Assad in power is a matter of life and death. With Assad at the helm, Syria serves as Iran’s gateway to the Arab world. It is also the only conduit through which Iran can keep its Lebanese Hezbollah proxy supplied and ready at all times. Hezbollah is Iran’s most valuable geo-political asset and losing it is not an option for Iran.

On the other hand, Russians have no need for Assad. They want to preserve a Syrian State governed by a regime that is friendly with Moscow and allows it to maintain its military presence in the country.  The de-facto alliance between Russia and Iran may look cozier on the surface but it may surprise the reader to know that Moscow has been earning quite a lot of money from Iran charging full price for every piece of armament it sells to the country.

There is little ideological connection between Iran – an Islamic theocracy – and Russia – a secular state. Historically, Iran and Russia have always been at odds with each other, however, it is their shared animosity towards the United States that is the foundation of unholy alliance. Both Iran and Russia would like to do away with the existing world order.

The current alliance between Russia and Iran is built on shaky foundations. After lifting of international sanctions, Iran is planning to export natural gas to Europe which is traditionally Russia’s market. There are differences over Caspian Sea divisions and both countries, despite being partners, do not see eye to eye on several aspects of the conflict in Syria. For the time being, Moscow and Tehran have set aside their differences in order to achieve short-term objectives. It is only a matter of time when the sordid history of the two former empires comes back to haunt them.

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

Subscribe

spot_imgspot_img

Popular

More like this
Related

Author Salman Rushdie Attacked on Lecture Stage in New York

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. (AP) — Salman Rushdie, the author whose...

SC Junks Plea Challenging Provision Which Allows Use of EVMs

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court on Friday junked a...

‘Cobweb Delaying MGNREGA Payment Needs to Be Surgically Cleared’

NEW DELHI - A Parliamentary standing committee in its report...

BJP during the 2020 Assembly Election Back-stabbed Us: Nitish

"During the 2020 assembly elections, we helped the BJP...