Russia and Iran: Military Air Turbulence

Many experts can not find an explanation why the Russian reaction to harsh statements by the Iranian Defense Minister was so soft.

On August 18, 2016, after strikes against Islamic militants in Syria, Russian bombers left the Iranian Hamadan air force base. Later the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that the use of the base by Russia "is temporarily stopped", and Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan made a dramatic statement that Russia reported about use of the Iranian air base for attacks against the Syrian terrorists without Tehran's notice, ostensibly to "demonstrate that it is a superpower." However, on August 23 Ali Larijani, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament, said that "the flights are not suspended," and Iran and Russia will continue to be allies in the fight against terrorism. What is behind such a painful and contradictory reaction of Iran?

"There are a few moments. Firstly, if we take into account the information of Iranian, Russian and Western media, Iranians are unhappy that Russia made a public relations campaign immediately after the start of combat operations from the Hamadan air base. Iranians did not like this, "- said Vladimir Sazhin, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, in an interview with

The second point, which is also based on the media reports, is that Russia demanded an extension of its presence in the air base, and this contradicts to the Iranian Constitution. "Literally immediately after the Islamic Revolution Iran came out of the CENTO (Central Treaty Organization) military-political bloc, breaking all military and military-technical ties with the United States and the West, expelling all military advisers from Iran. The Iranian Constitution states the inadmissibility of foreign military bases establishment ", - Sazhin said.

And the third point is the worsening of internal political situation in Iran. According to the expert, "there is a struggle between the reformers led by President and conservatives, radicals, their positions today differ on many issues."

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Infographics: Russian Bombers in the Iranian Hamadan Air Base

"In Iran, there is a significant group of people who believe that Russia is not sufficiently active in Syria militarily. In my personal opinion, this group was in favor to provide the Hamadan runway for Russian long-range aircraft. Another group on the contrary believes that Russia is too active in Syria and thereby pushes Iran aside from actions to strengthen the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Therefore, this group of Iranians feels great jealousy toward Russia, which has a certain influence on Damascus, "- the expert said.

Thus, some believe that Russia needs help to strengthen activities in Syria, and others - that it must be stopped, because it impedes the Iranian influence. "The main objective of Iran is to keep Bashar al-Assad as head of the Alawite community, which is close to the Shiites. Iran's strategic task is to create a Shia arc from Afghanistan, through Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. Iran is the most powerful and significant country in this system, which carries out its influence over the situation in the Middle East in all aspects ", - Sazhin said.

Many experts can not find an explanation why the Russian reaction to harsh statements by the Iranian Defense Minister was so soft. According to Sazhin, there is nothing surprising. "This suggests that Russia does not want to sever relations with Iran. They are now at a good level in almost all areas, and Moscow is not going to curtail cooperation with Tehran. "

"Iran is interested in Russia, and Russia is interested in Iran. Cooperation will continue, "- the expert concluded.
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