Russia's Pursuit of Closer Relations Attests to Iran's Regional Clout

Russia's Pursuit of Closer Relations Attests to Iran's Regional CloutRussia's Pursuit of Closer Relations Attests to Iran's Regional Clout

A lawmaker said the warming relationship between Tehran and Moscow, as evidenced by the last week visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, indicates that Russia is aware of Iran's geopolitical power and its influence in the region.  

Putin was in Tehran on Nov. 1 in his first visit to Iran since 2015, during which he held meetings with the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh also told ICANA that the meetings conveyed a message to the world, particularly Putin's rare remarks describing Tehran as a "strategic partner" and cooperation with the country as "very productive".

"This indicates Russians know that Iran is the only country that has managed to force the US to accept its power," he added.

The parliamentarian also said the landmark visit heralds improved cooperation between the two countries in different sectors.

Falahatpisheh, also a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said one can even anticipate closer relations in sensitive fields such as security and military, as the two countries' successful cooperation in Syria shows they can work with each other to help stabilize the chaotic region. Russia became involved in the conflict in Sept. 2015 by lending its air power to the Syrian Army, joining Iran which was providing the anti-terror drive in Syria with advisory assistance since the early months of the over six-year crisis.

A godsend for Syrian troops, the Russian air power helped them achieve back-to-back victories over militants wreaking havoc on the Arab country. Since late 2016, when the liberation of Aleppo effectively drove the final nail in the coffin of regime change dreams in Syria, the two countries started working with Turkey, a staunch backer of the Syrian government's opponents, to work out a political settlement to the conflict.

They have maintained a ceasefire covering most of Syria and are preparing to set up four de-escalation zones in militant-held parts of the war-torn country.

In the latest round of negotiations held in Kazakhstan's capital Astana last week, the three countries pledged to bring the Syrian government and its opponents together for a congress in the Russian city of Sochi on Nov. 18 to push peace efforts.

Falahatpisheh said the two countries' successful partnership on Syria allowed them to take bigger steps to defuse a serious regional crisis, bypassing the US and its allies that were only fanning the flames of the conflict.

"The world has understood that the US, which formed a coalition [purportedly] to try and end the crisis, has not only been unhelpful in solving the problem but complicated it by supplying arms to terrorists," he said.

"The world sees that Russia and Iran have been capable of defusing the crisis and this attests to our might on the international scene."

The lawmaker noted that the Iran-Russia alliance could take further steps to fight terrorism and ease other disputes in the region. During his stay in Tehran, Putin also discussed the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which faces fierce opposition from US President Donald Trump.

Trump has threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal, unless its alleged flaws, including what he calls its failure to contain Iran's missile and regional activities, are fixed. Moscow, along with other signatories, has voiced criticism of Trump's antagonistic stance and rejected his demand to renegotiate the deal.

The lifting of the sanctions under the deal has opened up Iran for business, strengthening economic relations between Iran and Russia, whose firms are competing to bolster their involvement in the Iranian market. During Putin's visit, Russian oil producer Rosneft and the National Iranian Oil Company agreed an outline deal to work on a number of Iranian projects worth up to $30 billion.

Putin was in Tehran to take part in the second three-way summit with Rouhani and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, which largely focused on improving road and rail links to the neighboring countries bordering the Caspian Sea.

The three countries agreed to bolster cooperation in the oil and gas industry, especially in the field of oil production.

They also discussed the situation in Syria and the need for fighting the scourge of terrorism in the region.

The next trilateral summit is scheduled for next year in Moscow.


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