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Russia and Iran are Coordinating in Syria to Preserve Regional Stability

(Strategic-Culture) ~ A lot of negative words have been said about Moscow’s role in the ongoing Syrian crisis by the US and its allies. Starting from August 2015 these claims took a new turn. Reports about Russian military buildup in Syria began. Unsupported by evidence, these reports continued throughout August and September.

Some of the reports speculated that Russian effort has been coordinated with Iran. These reports were linked to claims that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Quds Force, had visited Russia to discuss a joint Iranian-Russian strategy in Syria. Other reports claimed that Moscow’s moves were aimed at supporting an exhausted Hezbollah and to even rival Iranian influence in Syria. These reports, however, are nothing more than a misleading conjecture.

Qassem Soleimani

Iranian and Russian Cooperation

Reports that Iran and Russia are competing against each other for influence in Syria are false. The main objective of both the Iranians and the Russians is to keep Syria intact. Similar to Russian-Chinese cooperation in Eastern Eurasia and Asia-Pacific region, Iran and Russia are collaborating together in the Middle East and the central portion of Eurasia. From the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus to the Levant and the Mediterranean Sea, Tehran and Moscow have been acting as forces of stability.

The cooperation between Russia and Iran is on the rise. A three-day long joint naval drill at the northern Iranian port of Anzaili in the Caspian Sea was conducted in August. During the exercise the Russian warships Volgodonsk and Makhachkala trained with the Iranian warships Damavand, Joshan, and Peika. Before this, the last Russo-Iranian exercises in the Caspian were held in October 2014.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, Iranian and Russian military officials have conducted a number of high-level communications and meetings. For instance, through meetings between the defense ministers of the Russian Federation and Iran, Sergei Shoigu and Hussein Dehghan a principal agreement was achieved on delivery of the S-300 system to IRI. While in Moscow for an international security conference, Hussein Dehghan also suggested a need for a joint Eurasian effort by Iran, Russia, China, and India to counterbalance the US and NATO.

Aside from comments by Iranian and Russian officials that Iran is examining a possibility of procurement of Russian passenger jets for the Iranian civil aviation, there have also been talks about sharing military technology and the joint development of weapons. This includes the joint manufacturing of military jets by Moscow and Tehran. Russia is also going to help Iran develop its own satellite navigation system, which will be linked or based on Russia’s own Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). GLONASS, like China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, is a rival of Washington’s Global Positioning System (GPS). For its part, Iran is planning on exporting its drone technology to Russia.

Protecting Syria

After being prevented by the US and other NATO members from using their airspace to deliver humanitarian cargo to the Syrians, Russia used an alternative route via Iran and Iraq. Unsupported reports soon began to claim that the government in Damascus was on the verge of collapse. Upping the ante, Washington began sounding the alarm bells about a Russian military buildup in Syria that reminded very much of the previous claims about an Iranian military buildup. What is very telling is that in parallel to these unsubstantiated reports, US, British, and French officials were all calling for Iran and Russia to bring the Syrian government to the negotiating table. What does this say about the situation?

Moreover, both the Russian and Iranian military presences in Syria have been long-standing. Both Tehran and Moscow have military advisors and technicians inside the SAR. Russia has a naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, while the Iranians have military defense agreements with Syria. All of this legal and taking place within the framework of international law.

Is there really a Russian or Iranian military intervention in Syria? If either the Iranians or the Russians increase their military presence in Syria, they would be doing it to preserve regional stability. This means not only keeping the Syrian state intact and coming to the aid of a sovereign government defending its people, but also stopping the expansion of groups like al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda, and the misnamed Islamic State – something that the US and its allies have deliberately incubated and fuelled in both Syria and Iraq. If the reports are true that Iran, Syria, Russia, and Iraq are forming an anti-ISIS coalition alongside Lebanon’s Hezbollah (that some Lebanese sources call the 4+1), with the possible inclusion of China, the true intentions of this alliance should be kept in mind.


R E L A T E D :

Iraq Share Intelligence on ISIL Against U.S. Wishes

(Sputnik News, 28/9/2015) ~ The Iraqi government, backed by the United Stated for years, is now taking another independent geopolitical step towards its neighbors, Iran and Syria, as well as Russia – it’s going to share intelligence without Washington’s approval.

First, Iraq recently angered the State Department by allowing Russian planes to bring supplies and equipment to Syria over its airspace. On Friday, Ibrahim al-Jafari, Iraq’s foreign minister, at the Council on Foreign Relations told journalists when asked about the Russian flights that his country “did not violate any of our commitments toward the international community.”

Just two days later, the Iraqi army announced it has started the regular exchange of intelligence concerning ISIL terrorists with Russia, Syria and Iran, that would “participate in collecting information about ISIS terrorism.” The arrangement is significant for country’s security, it reads, as Iraq is concerned that thousands of volunteers joining the Islamic State have come from Russia, The New York Times reports.

The agreement was reached without ever asking Washington and announced this Sunday, The Times writes. This yet again irritated the US, which has got used to thinking of Iraq as a country with a government under its control and a vital member of the US-led coalition against ISIL.

The American reaction was somewhat sharp. Their objection targeted Syria’s Bashar Assad government.

“We do not support the presence of Syrian government officials who are part of a regime that has brutalized its own citizens,” a spokesperson for the anti-ISIL coalition, based in Baghdad, US Col. Steven H. Warren, said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry briefly commented at a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, that the issue is currently being coordinated with Russia. And a senior DoS official at a press briefing described the stance of Washington in a little bit greater detail.

“[W]e’re just at the beginning of trying to understand what the Russians’ intentions are in Syria, in Iraq, and to try to see if there are mutually beneficial ways forward here. We’ve got a long way to go in that conversation,” the official explained.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama are scheduled to meet on Monday, September 28, in New York and to address different issues. But first and foremost is the coordination of efforts in the Middle East.

The US has been officially providing military assistance to Iraqi armed forces for billions of dollars; there are some 3,500 American military personnel of various ranks and specializations deployed around the country.

However, it’s less broadly known that Russia was the very first country which provided warplanes so crucial for the strategic defense of the capital city Baghdad, Tikrit and other areas from rapidly advancing forces of Islamists in 2014. Nicknamed ‘flying tanks,’ Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot armored ground attack aircraft arrived amid the siege of Baghdad and helped stop the lightning-fast offensive of jihadists that summer, as the Iraqi Defense Ministry stressed later.

The urgent delivery was provided after the United States delayed its shipment of F-16 fighter jets, which the Iraqi Air Force had planned to use in the fight against Islamic militants.

“The delivery of these jets [Su-25] was conducted in the framework of international support of Iraq in its fight against terrorism. Fast and timely delivery of aircraft by Russian military aviation experts was due to connections between Russian and Iraqi government,” the ministry said in a statement on February 1, 2015.

Iraq’s Defense Ministry announced in this statement also that its Army Air Corps had received a new shipment of two Russian Mil Mi-28NE Havoc anti-armor attack helicopters. In addition, Russia reportedly supplied to Iraq multirole Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters, TOS-1A heavy flamethrower systems, Pantsir air defense systems, Dzhigit support launching units, artillery and other ammunition.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart last spring stressed that Russia is committed “to continue to provide assistance to Baghdad in order to strengthen its defense in the face of this threat, ensuring the unity, territorial integrity of the state and non-interference from outside in its internal affairs.”

Lavrov then pointed out that Russia considers its direct military-technical assistance to Iraq to be a “real contribution to the success of the fight against terrorism.”

Iraq is currently combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) jihadist group, which gained a foothold in the country in summer 2014. The group, which has also been operating in Syria since 2012, has captured vast areas in both countries and proclaimed a caliphate in the territories under its control.

Sputnik News
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