Why Iran and Russia aren’t as closely aligned on Syria as you might think

Saheb Sadeghi writes: Common and immediate objectives have united Iran and Russia on Syria in the short run, and this unity will probably be flexed against the West’s influence in the long term. However, when it comes to some key aspects of Syria’s future — including the nature of the government and the rebuilding of the Syrian military — differences between Tehran and Moscow are bound to come to the surface.

In broad terms, Iran and Russia have embarked on the same path and entered a new phase of the geopolitical game in Syria. A major power, Russia is trying to redefine its role in the world, as evidenced by its actions in Ukraine and Syria. After 40 years, Moscow has returned to the Middle East to prove that today’s world is different — and multipolar. Iran’s strategy also revolves around redefining its geopolitical role. Iran’s game in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and even Yemen shouldn’t be considered only from an ideological point of view, but rather as the Islamic Republic seeking what can be defined as living space.

In the short run, both Iran and Russia will attempt to preserve Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s position, help him maintain the territory his government now controls and retake territories that the Syrian army has recently lost. There is also the consideration of Russia seeking to test its new weapons and air force. In sum, the obvious aim is to weaken the position of Assad’s opponents in Syria as much as possible, and this short-term objective will ensure the current Iranian-Russian unity. [Continue reading…]

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