After a stunning diplomatic victory in Syria, Russia makes a new step to secure its influence over the Middle East. Now it tries to help Iran. Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to visit Tehran to discuss possible solutions for the illicit Iranian nuclear program. Decision about the visit was made during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, after a meeting of presidents of Russia and Iran.
“As far as the Iranian nuclear problem is concerned, we would like this problem to be solved as soon as possible within the framework of international norms”
Hassan Rowhani, newly elected Iranian president, told Vladimir Putin in Bishkek inviting him to visit Iran.
The invitation took place the day before Russia and the USA reached a preliminary agreement about putting Bashar-Al-Assad’s chemical weapons under international control. Russian initiative over Syrian chemical weapons gave Iran new hope for averting a possible American strike, which is threatening the country as a result of their illicit military nuclear program.
Russia, Syria and Iran are long time allies in the region. Russia was the biggest arm supplier of Assad’s regime, and even now is trying to support the Syrian government, not only through political talks, but allegedly with additional weaponry taken to the Syrian shores by warships, which have been recently seen circulating near the Syrian coast. Russian naval deployment on the eastern part of Mediterranean should reach 11 war ships by the second half of September, according to Russian news agencies reports.
Iran was also a big customer of Russian military goods. There are some talks circulating that Russia will continue arm sales to Iran if America strikes Syria and finally deliver the promised S300 – a contract that was worth $800 million in 2007 when it was signed. After the pressure of the USA and UN, in 2010 the contract was breached and the S300 were not delivered. If America strikes Syria, that situation might change.
So far, Russia has done everything to prevent the U.S. strikes on Syria. The preliminary agreement that was signed on September 14 between Russia and the USA includes removal of chemical weapons from Syria by the middle of 2014. It looks doubtful though. It took four years to remove chemical weapons from Western Germany – one of the closest allies of the United States. There was a perfect transport infrastructure helping the process. It included famous “autobahns,” an ultramodern railway system and naval network. And there was no civil war going on at the time. In Syria, everything is much more complicated.
Iran, like Russia, also supports the Syrian government and promises consequences if the USA strikes. One of the threats is an Iranian strike on Saudi Arabia, one of the strongest supporters of the U.S. policies in the region, according to the leader of Iran’s proxy militia group Al-Mukhtar. Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps soldiers are fighting in Syria on the side of the government along with members of Hezbollah.
The Russian initiative on Syria and the suspension of the US strike is considered as a victory by the Iranian government, as they hope to legalize their nuclear program.
Dates of the Putin visit to Tehran are not defined yet, but his attitude is clear.
“Iran is our neighbor, a good neighbor”
Russian president said during the summit, offering to help Iran build a second nuclear reactor at Bushehr nuclear plant, according to the Kommersant daily.
Can America do something in this situation? Good question for President Obama’s administration to think about while President Putin makes his strong move into the Middle East.
By Alsu Salakhutdinov