Around the time Iran and Russia strengthened cooperation in various issues of foreign and security policy in the middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, General Joseph Dunford, head of the joint chiefs of staff of the Armed forces of the United States, in a speech at the annual security forum in aspen, said that it is hardly possible to recognize the interests and plans of Iran and Russia on the middle East region are similar and close.
General Dunford 31 Thira (22 July — approx. transl.), responding to a question concerning the Syrian conflict, said that in the “long term” Iran and Russia have very different political objectives against the government of Bashar al-Assad and himself. He also said that during the Syrian crisis, these differences surfaced. Arguing these claims, he added: “it would Not be wrong to assume that Iran and Russia, seeking to have more influence on Syria, will even compete with each other”.
However, even if to speak in General terms, neither the Syrian government nor the Russian Federation nor Iran are not acting in the spirit of the claims of this American General aspirations of Iran is not so very different from the plans of Russia. And the more the two countries does not give reason to call their actions and aspirations are different from each other.
Russia sees the Middle East as a “tool”
Dr. Abd-ur-Rasul Divsalar, a Professor and expert on Russia, said in an interview with Donya-e Eqtesad, that the words of Dunford, to some extent, correct, because by itself the middle East is for Russia a kind of priority in its foreign policy, and is a means to achieve several goals of a global nature. Among them — the return of the superpower status in world politics and a greater role in shaping the regional order in Europe.
The study of “strategy of Russia’s foreign policy” (2016) demonstrates that the middle East is not Russia’s priority foreign policy, and in the best case is somewhere in fifth place among its foreign policy priorities. In this sense, the middle East itself is not a priority for the Russian strategic significance, however, important because it has a specific role in global Affairs. The middle East from the point of view of Russia is of particular importance when it becomes an important tool or means to achieve strategic objectives in its foreign policy.
As was stated by the Professor, and also recognized some us officials, the problem of migration from the Middle East to Europe — is only a means or “tool” in the hands of Russia, which it seeks to influence the European regional order and influence. On the other hand, the presence of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean sea also has great significance for the Russian political leadership. Indeed, the growing presence of Russia and its Navy in the middle East implies the presence in the Mediterranean sea, with which it is possible to influence Europe. According to the naval doctrine of Russia, the state has until 2020 to install a powerful presence in the Mediterranean and Black sea, Arctic, Indian and Atlantic oceans and to achieve the appearance of new bases in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, on the island of Sicily and in Syria. Therefore, contrary to the assertions of some experts who believe that the bases in Latakia and Tartous do not have such large values, we can say that they are an important part of the defense strategy of Russia.
The reconstruction of the global security system
The goal of Russia, which sent troops to Syria, can be explained with the help of a great strategy called “building a system of global security.” Building a global security system under the current circumstances in Russia is undesirable for several reasons. The first reason is that this system is created by the project of the West and the USA and build them in the first place. The second reason is that this system limits the influence of Russia and prevent its transformation into a world power. Third, it ignores the security interests of Russia and builds for them a “trap” or a strategic trap. And the fourth reason, according to the Russian, is that it does not give the desired results and Vice versa, protects destructive, destabilizing changes observed in the twenty-first century. This combination of factors demonstrates the need to revise the current security system. The new system of global security should officially consider and recognize the interests of Russia to eliminate the threat of “strategic blockade” of Russia in Europe, the Caucasus and the far East, and — more importantly just mentioned — officially and under any circumstances to recognize Russia’s status as a world power.
At the same time need to pay attention to the fact that Iran and Russia are looking at the problems of the region from several different perspectives. Russia is positioning itself as the only one of the regional powers in middle East politics, while Iran’s stability and security in the middle East is one of the vital problems. This difference and sets the tone for the foreign policy of both parties. At the moment it is absolutely clear that Moscow and Tehran are equally suited to the Syrian conflict and the situation in Iraq. They want the region’s stability. But at the same time, we must note that the two sides have common interests only in tactics, and its tactical common interests only follow at a certain point, because the strategic relationship between Tehran and Moscow disagree.
Opportunities for strategic cooperation
Now Russia, being a political player who seeks to increase the influence and weight in international Affairs, seeks to use the cooperation with Iran on the Middle East (particularly Syrian and Iraqi cases) as an opportunity to return to the arena of world politics and thus to counteract the influence of Europe and the United States in the middle East. Divsalar convinced that, probably, General Dunford, in talking about differences between Tehran and Moscow on the long-term political tasks, to a certain extent right, but this does not mean that the two sides won’t be able to build with each other strategic interaction. In other words, the convergence of tactical interests of Iran and Russia gives an opportunity for both parties in the long term, and also to reconcile its strategic interests and increase the potential for strategic interaction. Not to say that Russia and Iran have serious differences in the strategic plan that you will never be able to reconcile their positions. Although America likes to talk about what is a tactical plan, it did not be interpreted as a categorical imperative or something that happens in reality.
The convergence of interests of Moscow and Tehran
Speaking about the cooperation of Iran and Russia on Syria, it must be borne in mind that every country pursues its own national interests and foreign policy ranks with their account. Russians are not an exception to this rule. Although now the position of Moscow and Teheran concerning the problems of the region (e.g. Syria and Iraq) are very close to each other, there are points where the parties disagree. It’s natural. Today, both Iran and Russia seek to strengthen their positions. In some regions — such as Syria — it is using roughly the same tactics. Of course, in Syria the Russians, like the Americans, seek to create a regional environment “polystability” which, on the one hand, would justify their presence in the region, and on the other hand would give them the opportunity to do exactly what they want.
The fight against terrorists in Syria
Currently, hundreds of different kind of extremists from Chechnya, Dagestan and other regions of Russia where Muslims live, really went to Syria and joined the forces of the terrorists. It is for this reason the Syrian “polygon” is for Moscow, the most suitable place to destroy the terrorists, who are originally from Russia, deprived of their citizenship because of their commitment to terrorism and radicalism. As Iran seeks to strengthen the position of Syria Bashar al — Assad- the major element of the “resistance forces”. Finally, the objectives of Moscow and Tehran in Syria are still a number of common positions, and each of the two parties trying to create in this country conditions that helped to preserve the power of Assad and destroy the terrorists.
Opposition depolamas system
The middle East as a region strategically and economically important has always held a special place in the current world balance of power. If you look at his past (and more recent), we see that Russia’s role in it was small and day by day decreased, and the influence of the West and the USA in the Middle East, by contrast, is constantly growing. The changing global balance of power after the collapse of the Soviet Union transformed the world into a “platform of opportunity” in the U.S. and contributed further to the unipolar perception of the world that is concentrated in Washington. The occupation of Afghanistan under the pretext of the presence there of Taliban (declared a terrorist organization and banned in Russia — approx.ed) was formed with the assistance of Washington, and the occupation of Iraq under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction, traces of which were never discovered, became a cover to further justify the dictates of the United States in these countries. But at the moment Russia is its visible presence in Syria and less visible, but also tangible activities in Iraq wants to give America to understand that the era of “unipolar world” for the United States came to an end and that Moscow, too, can be a pole of power.
What is Russia trying to achieve in Iraq and Yemen?
At this stage the Russians would surely want to own and play a prominent role in all crisis regions. Iraq and Yemen in this case is no exception. The main objective of Moscow in Yemen, perhaps, is that in the not so distant future to play the role of a highly experienced TRANS-regional “intermediary”, such “white beard” between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with which Yemen relations sharply deteriorated and led to yet another regional crisis. Another goal of Russia is to strengthen its position against Iran and Saudi Arabia. Thus, taking its place in this struggle, where one side are the Arab countries, headed by Saudi Arabia and the other — Iran, Russia can play a trump card as an intermediary. But, she seems not committed in Yemen for any particular purpose. In Iraq the goal of Moscow — about the same as in Syria, the only difference is that Syria is for Russians has more strategic importance due to the naval base in Tartus.
To avoid the Libyan scenario
Russia never trusted and did not support previously and is not currently supported steps America North Africa and the middle East. But despite this, Russia is “silent” in respect of Iraq and in relation to the attack on Libya, the resolution which was adopted in the period of the presidential term, Medvedev. And what in the end had to deal with the current President of Russia Vladimir Putin is actually Russian agreement on all American operations, which were endorsed by the UN security Council, i.e. the sole “winning streak” of America to all objectives. And because of this, when the UN was voting on Syria, Russia, along with China not only did not agree with the text of the resolution, but for the last two years thrice used veto on a resolution regarding Syria. The result for Russia was the loss of regional positions (particularly against Iraq and Libya). While the US and its European allies acted in complete disregard of the interests of Russia. US military operations led to snizeni of Russian influence in North Africa and the middle East. And now Russia seeks to prevent the recurrence of such a scenario.
New threats and opportunities
You should also pay attention to the fact that relations between Russia and Iran was seen always clearly — in black or white. So, some in Russia see Iran in the white light, believing that the interests of Russia and our country like never before and in no way differ. Others tied all your hopes and aspirations with the West, and, accordingly, looked at Russia as a unreliable partner. But there is no doubt that relations with Russia as with other countries, can be ambiguous and to hide to the Islamic Republic of Iran both opportunities and challenges and threats. And the art of the politicians and diplomats of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of our country is that, on the basis of national interests of the Islamic Republic, to use all possibilities to prevent challenges and threats. In fact, if we are not to imagine, what exactly are Russia’s objectives in Syria, we can lose some important possibilities, and then the Alliance of Iran and Russia in the sphere of regional security may become much less effective.
Also, do not forget that the inability to formulate desirable for Iran a circuit device region and a lack of understanding of how to look like a regional security system, can affect the results of cooperation with Russia. In fact, the revision by Russia of its strategy in the system of global security can provide Iran the opportunity to contribute to the plan the desired changes. The absence of Iran’s clear and specific strategies on such an important component as the global security, may become, perhaps, the main threat that the strategic plan will lead to the loss of share in the national wealth and resources.
The author said Fakhri Sadat, columnist at Donya-e Eqtesad (World of economy)