A couple of weeks ago in front of the Russian Embassy in Tehran held a demonstration. Participating angry bearded young men shouting that the Embassy a “spy nest”. This slogan brings us back in 1979, when Iranian students in the capital protested in front of the then American “spy nest”.
Why Russia suddenly became a target for protesters? The reason should be sought in the upcoming presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused that he rashly rushed on the campaign trail, supporting Ayatollah Ibrahim Raisi. Such interference not everyone likes. But with regard to the presidential campaign in the United States, then Russia is accused of backroom influence and hacking in favor of Donald trump, but in Iran, it seems that Putin gives his support more openly.
“The demonstration last week is just one example of the fact that many Iranians don’t especially like the Russian interference in the presidential election,” writes well-known Iranian commentator Amir Taheri (Amir Taheri) living in exile in Europe.
Two weeks ago, the Russian President sent Rustam Minnikhanov, the President of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, a city sacred to Shiite Muslims the city of Mahshad in Iran. As head of the delegation consisting of 60 people, Minnikhanov met with Ibrahim Raisi, one of the three presidential candidates who can win elections in Iran. The visit did not go unnoticed.
In Iran Raisi refers to the hardliners — in contrast to the current President Hassan Rouhani, who recently announced his candidacy. Putin met Rouhani in Moscow, but, according to some observers, the Kremlin Tsar, allegedly, Rouhani considers too “Pro-American”. It Rouhani with the support of Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei had with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany in negotiating a nuclear agreement in November 2013.
Historically Russia had interests associated with Iran. In the 19th century, Russia and Britain divided Iran into two spheres of influence: Russians got the North and British the South. During the Second world war, when Iran was officially neutral, but Reza Pahlavi Shah sympathized with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Britain invaded the country. The occupation authorities brought to power Reza son of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah remained until the revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The Soviet Union occupied Northern Iran until 1946.
The oil wealth of Iran has played a particularly important role in the game, which is gradually joined US. When Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran was an ally of the United States, while the leaders of the Pro-Soviet Communist party Tudeh often been in the Shah’s notorious prisons. After 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini stated that Iran will not be based neither on Soviet, nor on the United States. But gradually the Russians began to play an increasingly important role in the country — both in economic terms and as suppliers of weapons. Russia and Iran fighting on the same side in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad remains in power thanks to their presence.
Relations between Russia and Iran became more systematic after a meeting between Ali Khamenei and Vladimir Putin two years ago. Then Iranian spiritual leader stated that Iran will not hold any position in international politics, not “coordinated” them with Moscow in advance.
The fact that bad relations between the U.S. and Russia has not improved after Donald trump became an American President may have contributed to the fact that Vladimir Putin has chosen their side in the Iranian election campaign. Hassan Rohani seeks to improve relations with the West and the United States. In today’s situation, it hardly meets the interests of Russian. But the question remains, what will Ali Khamenei has, people who have the real power in Iran.
Khamenei during the election campaign publicly never spoke and were not taking any sides, although some candidates claimed that he supports them. For a spiritual leader to support a candidate who may subsequently lost the election, would mean a loss of prestige. Ideologically and Ibrahim Raisi, and the third significant candidate, Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, Khamenei is closer than Rouhani. Ghalibaf is the mayor of Tehran, he had previously headed the Revolutionary guards and the Iranian police.
Ali Khamenei 77 years, his health doesn’t matter. In the next four years can happen a lot; if it is not, the President will have the opportunity to influence the choice of successor. Therefore, the presidential elections that will be held this month, it is important not only for Russia but for the whole world.
The CIA constantly interfered in Iranian politics when the country was ruled by Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Not to say that the American intelligence services have since become welcome in Iran. While for the Russian intelligence service the FSB on Iranian soil is much easier to operate, given the close relationship between Russia and Iran.
Information on whether anyone was arrested during demonstrations in front of the Russian Embassy had been received. The fact that the authorities gave her to spend and not intervened, could be a bad sign for President Putin.