Hossein Ajorlou

Russia and Iran-Israel Disputes in Syria

Date of publication : October 27, 2018 21:48 pm
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, interpreter Anatoly Yurkov, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov, and Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov (L-R) during a meeting at the Moscow Kremlin

During the last few months, there have been various reports about the role played by Russia in Syria, especially in relation to disputes between Iran and the Zionist regime. These reports gave birth to analyses, which were at times contradictory. The question is “what factors and variables affect Russia’s policies with regard to disputes between Iran and the Zionist regime?” The answer is that Russia is trying to adopt those strategies and policies, which would allow it to have control of the ongoing crisis in Syria without allowing disputes between other actors to take that control from Moscow.

Due to its vast strategic relations with Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran has appeared as an active actor in the Arab country’s conflict and has played an essential role in the survival of the Syrian government. Russia is aware of the role played by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies. Therefore, Moscow has been consistently trying to help that role continue in parallel with its own strategies on the Syria crisis. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the resistance axis have a great effect on the field in Syria crisis and undermining their role in any form will provide grounds for further escalation of the crisis, resurgence of Takfiri groups, and subsequent weakening of the Syrian government, which is not what Russia wants. On the other hand, the role played by an anti-West element like Iran in Syria will help Russia’s role in Syria be recognized at international level.

It seems that possible withdrawal of the Islamic Republic of Iran from Syria, which would leave Russia as the exclusive actor in that country and along its very strategic coasts with the Mediterranean, is not a desirable option for the Zionist regime and European countries. However, at the present time, the main factor that has disturbed the Zionist regime’s equations in the occupied Golan Heights is the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran close to that region. Therefore, in order to head off an imminent threat from Iran, the Zionist regime’s officials are currently tolerating the presence and role of Russians in Syria.

Although Russia enjoys very good relations with Syria and Iran, it has tried to maintain good ties with the Zionist regime as well. The most important reasons for this state of affairs are as follows:

1. Establishing Russia’s international role: Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, the main goal that Russia has been pursuing in that country has been to maintain its standing in Syria as an influential country in West Asia. In doing this, Russia has even resorted to a military option, which needs international recognition and legitimacy. To obtain this legitimacy, Moscow needs to avail itself of special mechanisms, which require Russia to maintain interaction with other active actors in Syria, including the Zionist regime.

2. Doubts about changes in the military strategy of the Zionist regime: Any fundamental change in the political and security structure of Syria would be followed with changes in the military strategy of the Zionist regime. Since the Zionist regime has close relations with the United States government, its effort to reap economic and security benefits in Syria will be a negative point for Russia as a rival to the United States and may change the regional balance to the detriment of Russia.

3. Fear of serious measures that the Zionist regime may take against the government in Syria: Russia maintains that marginalization of the Zionist regime in the Syria crisis in any way will increase the possibility of a military measure by that regime against the government in Syria. At the same time, since Damascus is close to Syria’s border with the Zionist regime and given the fact that the cost of a possible military conflict between Russia and the Zionist regime would be high due to Tel Aviv’s close relations with Washington, Russians are doing their best to avoid such a confrontation.

4. Preventing the United States from playing a more serious role in Syria: Since the Zionist regime has strategic relations with the United States, the weaker it gets, the more it tries to get the United States involved in Syria, which is not what Russia wants to happen.

5. Zionists are close to the power structure in Russia: Russia has a powerful Jewish minority, which has been able to secure a foothold in Russia’s power structure due to its special economic potential. This issue, along with serious presence of Zionists of Russian origin in the political and security structure of the Zionist regime, has prevented a serious gap from developing in relations between these two actors.

6. The Zionist lobby in Washington: Being aware of the position and role that the Zionist lobby plays in Washington, Moscow has been trying to maintain an acceptable level of relations with the Zionist regime. At the same time, it has been indirectly trying to control anti-Russian policies of this lobby, because in case of tension in relations between Russia and the Zionist regime, this Zionist lobby may use its influence in the White House and Congress and increase political and security costs for Russia.

In conclusion, Russia needs the strategic presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria, but is also trying to control and manage what is going on in that country. Therefore, it is trying to adopt a policy, which would prevent the disputes between Iran and the Zionist regime in Syria from taking a serious turn. If this happens, it will be followed with the possibility of Russia losing control of the situation, which will undermine the existing security order. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran must have an accurate understanding of the interests of all involved parties in Syria, especially Russians. At the same time, Iran must monitor their every movement so that the war theater in Syria, especially on the Golan front, will remain dynamic. This will prevent emergence of a customary and legal regime in this region, which may undermine Iran’s standing in Syria and erode the Islamic Republic’s deterrence power in the region in the long run.


Hossein Ajorlou is an Iranian expert on Middle East Affairs.

To comment on this article, please contact IRAS Editorial Board

ID: 3754