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IRAN AND RUSSIA - FALSE ALLIES

Iran and Russia - False Allies
Relations among countries are not that simple, just like relations among people. Many believe that Russia and Iran are allies, although, a more detailed analysis reveals that is far from being true.  
The relations between the two countries have its pitfalls, inconspicuous at first sight. Russia sees itself as one of the world's superpowers, and Iran believes that it is a regional power. Although, Russia's status as a global superpower is debatable, one cannot argue with the fact of Iran's regional leadership (in the Gulf region).   
Both sides are trying to hide the problems between Iran and Russia as much as possible, but, at times, they do come to the surface. The first serious sign came from Tehran, when Iranian authorities have filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Arbitration against Russia accusing Moscow of refusing to supply Iran with S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems. This topic has long been spread in the Russian media space and in the expert community. The Russian side expressed its dissatisfaction with Iran's "unfriendly" move. The issue was resolved after the lifting of sanctions from Iran.   
A new round of confrontation with Iran began in September 2015, when Russia decided to conduct a military operation in Syria, to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Although Bashar al-Assad is an ally of Iran as well, still, Moscow and Tehran have different views on the post-war Syria and the fate of Assad. Prior to Russia, since 2012, Iran virtually alone supported the Assad regime.  At the same time, Tehran was carrying the economic, political and military burden of that support. However, low skills and combat capability of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps did not allow Iran to radically change the situation in favor of its ally (as, indeed, Russian intervention).  After the appearance of Russian troops in Syria, an initiative to "save the Shiite regime" was intercepted by Moscow, Iran has moved into the background. Of course, it could not go unnoticed in Tehran.
The Iranian leadership considered itself pushed back into the background and brought down to the level of secondary junior partner of Russia. Some experts link the withdrawal of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) from Syria namely with dissatisfaction of Iran. It is difficult to say whether this is so, but in favor of this version, there are certain reasons that I have given above. Some circles in Moscow were also dissatisfied with quite low-key position of Iran on the issue of the incident with the Russian Su-24 shot down in Turkey. Apparently, Moscow counted on more support from Tehran on this issue, but miscalculated.
 Iran, harboring a grudge against Moscow, has found a chance to take revenge, when international sanctions were lifted. That is, contrary to the expectations of the Russian side, Tehran did not buy unreliable Russian planes for its civil aviation, but preferred the European Airbus aircrafts, (the transaction amount of 25 billion. dollars). In addition, the Iranian side delays, and in every way impedes the implementation of projects for the construction of TPP in Bandar Abbas and the electrification of the railway in Garmsar-Incheh Borun area, conducted jointly with the Russian side. Iran's desire to dramatically increase exports of oil, after the lifting of sanctions, also has a negative impact on Russia. Such step of Iran, in fact, plays into the hands of the US and Saudi Arabia. Russia has to tolerate the defiance of its ally, and the Russian ruble is paying for humility, losing its value against the dollar. 
 Russia was “stabbed in the back” during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Turkey. During his visit, Rouhani said that “Iran stands ready to ensure the energy security of Turkey ". Some experts believe, not without reason, that these words were addressed rather to Moscow, than to Ankara. 
The fact that Iran is ready to knock its ally off the large and strategically important market is indicative by itself, and the fact that the Iranian president does it in such an ostentatious way, suggests serious problems between Moscow and Tehran. If Iran will be able to replace Russian gas on the Turkish market, first, it will deprive Russia of the enormous financial flows, which it badly needs on the background of cheap oil, and, secondly, Moscow will lose the only tool of pressure on Turkey, so the role of Russia in this region can be pushed into the background. It should also be stressed that, given the commitment made by Turkey in the area of gas imports diversification, Iran, in order to dislodge Russia from Turkish market, does not even need to supply gas to the volume, in which it is supplied by Russia. Even half of the current volume delivered will be sufficient to put an end to Russian gas business in Turkey.
And finally, Russia has received the final strike from Iran, during a meeting in Doha, Iran, as we know, have refused to freeze oil production, which means further fluctuations in oil prices, and as a consequence, the depreciation of the ruble. 
I do not think that problems between Iran and Russia will be solved in the foreseeable future, or at least frozen for a certain period; most likely, Iran will try to dislodge Russia from the markets of its interests, through economic and political means.  
Ali Hajizade, political analyst, head of the project “The Great Middle East”
21.04.2016 - Hit : 1335


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