Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Iranians and Russians- Between Buying and Threats | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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What happened to the copy of the Qur’an that President Putin gifted the Supreme Leader during his visit to Tehran around four months ago?

It does not seem that calls for cooperation have been responded to as there are conflicting reports about the promised missiles. The Iranians said that they have been shipped but the Russians denied this without sufficient explanation.

The S-300 missiles that Iran said that it has paid for in full (approximately $1 billion) nine years ago when it was in straitened circumstances were due to be delivered in 2010. Despite this, they haven’t been delivered. It is said that the reason for this was a Security Council warning against exporting weapons. However, the international ban was lifted last year and the missiles still haven’t been delivered. It is still uncertain whether Moscow will actually send the strategically important missiles and threaten the Gulf states and Israel with them. A Russian source said that the date of delivery has been postponed till the end of this year and denied that Tehran had paid for the missiles in full. The Iranians have already threatened to sue the Russians and will demand compensation amounting to $4 billion even though what they paid was a quarter of this sum.

Why are the Iranians threatening their allies the Russians? Is Iran in a position to be hostile to the Kremlin? The relationship between the two governments is strange; they are similar in terms of their willingness to confront the west in the region as part of their policy of using each other in a temporary alliance. However, their interests remain different as Russian goals are long term. As for Iran, it is trying to reconcile with the west and is on the verge of doing so. The extreme wing within the Iranian regime believes that reconciliation with the west will be at the expense of its internal influence. For this reason, this wing put $8 billion on the table at the Kremlin during the Iranian defence minister’s latest visit in exchange for buying lots of Russian weapons.

Why? Iran may think that it is able to buy the Russians with money on the one hand and by threatening to sue them on the other as part of its new style of managing its international relations after signing the nuclear agreement and its reconciliation with the United States. However, if Tehran is placing its bets on tempting Russia with money and expensive military deals, then it is mistaken because it is competing with three governments, all of which are richer than Iran; Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.