On August 16, 2016, the Russian Defense Ministry announced strategic bomber attacks against Syrian armed opposition sites from an Iranian airbase. This news had a greater impact in Iran domestically than that of the air raids on Aleppo, Deir el Zour and Idlib, which the statements claimed targeted bases of ISIS and Fateh al-Sham (previously known as Jabhat Al Nusra). This was the first time that Russia had been allowed to deploy forces on Iranian territory, a clear violation of the Iranian Constitution, and a painful blow to the assertions of sovereignty rooted in the revolutionary regime’s culture and in Iranian culture in general.
The Revolutionary Guards did not dare to defend this sin inside Iran for many reasons, with the Minister of Defense deciding, after some floundering, to end the mission. A number of deputies in the Shura Council demanded that the defense minister is questioned on the decision to allow it in the first place, with vitriolic criticism of the regime over this spreading like wildfire on social media.
Confusion seemed clear in the regime officials’ statements, with their positions contradicting one another, from support for Russia’s expansion if needed to harsh criticism of Russian Defense Ministry, which revealed hidden animosity.
Russians are behaving like children rushing to show off their strength, according to the statement from Iran’s defense minister on Iranian Second Channel. Russians probably do not know the Iranian Baha’i adage, “Cover your gold, your actions, and your faith.” Iranian resentment of Russia reveals the size of harm and damage especially that caused by soft power.
Iranians slammed the glaring hypocrisy that led to the event, saying that while revolutionaries harshly condemn the Shah as a U.S. puppet, they had themselves committed a new sin that the Shah would not have committed had his reign survived. The American presence in Iran during the Shah’s reign was limited to some military advisers and surveillance sites in the northeast of the country to monitor the Soviet Union, with even the Shah never allowing US forces and American bombers to exist on the Iranian land, or to launch strikes from its territory.
Khamenei faced a harsh fact and was unable to justify it; that is, Russia was the first foreign country to carry out announced military attacks from Iranian territory since World War I. Moreover, the relationship bringing the two countries together as allies rather than rivals which he has spoken about in speeches and the alleged strategic coalition have been shown to be a relationship of the stronger and weaker.
In Syria, Iran’s decision to allow Russia to access air bases to support military operations is an admission of deficit against the Syrian opposition, and an end for field decisiveness allegations ability.
For Czar Putin, the importance of using Iranian air bases goes beyond tactical advantages in the war against the Syrian armed groups, but is a part of a wider control in what was known as the “Axis of Resistance”, which is being employed as a tool to strengthen Moscow’s political influence in the Middle East, as well as increasing the area it controls on the global power map.
Some US officials said that they were not surprised of Russian-Iranian military cooperation. In fact, this matter seemed confusing to them. Maybe they lack definite information about the Kremlin’s intention behind this move. What confirms this suspicion is a statement by State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner, who said that he thinks that they are still trying to assess exactly what they should do.
As Obama began to write his memoirs, and to search for offers from American publishing houses, this new level of relations between Russia and Iran, proves that he committed a great strategic mistake when he opposed the establishment of safe zones in Syria, refrained from interfering, and opened the floodgates for Russia in the region.
Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of The Arabain GCIS