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Russia’s Expansion in the Area - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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If it is a surprise that Russians take a military base in Iran, then the fact that Iran would grant them footholds on their territories is even more surprising.

Russia and Iran had been military cooperating for a long time. Russians use Iranian atmosphere and military airports in their joint military operations defending Assad’s regime, so why would Russians be given the clearance to use a military base and not just an aerial service?

This is what makes the issue doubtful, and we will continue to ask about the nature of this new alliance until we have receive true convincing answers.

I personally don’t believe that the joint war in Syria is the only reason behind the evolvement of the military relations since the cooperation existed before the base and was satisfying. It seems as though Moscow is resorting to mystery and giving mixed signals.

Three months ago, Kremlin had announced that its forces had achieved their mission and will retrieve most of the forces. Only to find out later that Russia had increased its participation in the war in Syrian atmosphere.

Is Russia’s new step to increase its military activity in the Middle East, in addition to using the Iranian Hamedan Airbase, related in any way to its struggle with the NATO in central Asia and east Europe, known earlier as Republics of the Soviet Union?

Russian envoy at the NATO said: “NATO began a deterrence plan against Russia. The west alliance is deploying four battalions in Eastern Europe, to increase their presence in the Baltic and Black Seas.”

If fighting the west is Russia’s excuse for using Iran as a headquarters for its military activity, this doesn’t justify as to why Tehran is supporting Russia. Truth is that Iran is having wars that don’t interest the U.S., like that in Yemen and Syria.

In addition, the alliance between Moscow and Tehran is primarily revealed in Syria, a war that doesn’t interest the Americans who refused to be involved in it. Moreover, Iranians are military cooperating with the Americans in Iraq such as al-Anbar, Fallujah and now Mosul.

So, if Russians reasoning is that they are cooperating with Iran as a step directed against the U.S. and NATO, this is against what is truly happening on battle fields.

The close relations between Moscow and Ayatullah Khamenei’s regime will probably be at the expense of Russia’s other relations in the Middle East. I don’t exclude that this will abort Russia’s latest relations with the Arab Gulf countries.

Recently, many Arab delegates and leadership such as kings and presidents visited Russia and signed a number of economic and military deals to buy an unprecedented number of purchases. The wave of visits and Arab-Russian approach even grew criticism from military and political leaders in Washington who had always warned the Obama administration of excessive relations with Russia.

It may be that by granting the Russians the Hamedan Airbase, Iran wants to bargain with the American and blackmail them especially after signs that the nuclear deal between Iran and the west might fail.

The alternative for the deal may be a military cooperation with Russia, to which we say: what is new? The cooperation with the two countries is old and has always existed. But now, Iran wants Russia as an ally in its wars and not just weapons’ seller.

These are possible deductions of the Russian-Iranian developments. The alliances might reflect Russia’s desire to expand its military and political power, or part of a strategy in face of NATO, or it could be an Iranian attempt to blackmail the west to activate the nuclear agreement.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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