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Expansion of NATO and its Missile Defense System Pose a Common Threat to Iran and Russia

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Alireza Noori
Ph.D., Saint Petersburg State University & Expert on Russian Affairs

In the first take, continuation of Russophobic policy of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and intensification of its policy to contain Russia can be considered as the main results of the recent summit meeting of NATO in the Polish capital city of Warsaw and an outcome of the decision made by its members to bolster military infrastructure of this organization in Poland and the Baltic states. However, a more comprehensive view of the puzzle of military actions taken by the West, topped by the United States, from expansion of NATO to deployment of its missile defense system, strengthening military bases, and its military presence in all parts of the world, would reveal expansionist tendencies within this organization, whose scope goes far beyond “Russia” and represents a continuous effort to maintain and shore up its hegemony across the world.

From this viewpoint, an approach to recent NATO meeting and its military moves focusing on small details would be erroneous, because the West’s insistence on military development with the goal of establishing its hegemony and creating “absolute security” for itself, would at the same time, mean creation of insecurity and posing security threat to all actors that are not in line with the West. With this point in mind, the negative security consequences of the development of NATO’s military infrastructure cannot be considered limited to Russia, because other independent and anti-hegemony actors, including Iran, would not remain immune to these negative consequences. Opposition to Iran's missile program and parallel insistence on deploying various components of West’s missile shield in Eastern Europe, and probably in later stages in the Persian Gulf, would mean nothing but an attempt to threaten Tehran.

Of course, under the present conditions, these negative consequences are less tangible and are mostly indirect for Tehran, but in the near future, they can take on a more objective form and pose a serious threat to Iran's security. Like their Russian counterparts, Iranian officials are well aware that NATO’s recent decision to beef up its military presence would not remain limited to Eastern Europe, including Poland and the Baltic states, and in next stages, its moves are quite possible to extend to such countries as Ukraine followed by Georgia and then the Republic of Azerbaijan.

This is the same objective threat, which can be deduced through a large-scale view to NATO summit meeting in Warsaw, and it will be felt more strongly along the borders of Iran and Russia in the near future. Therefore, these NATO moves are actually a common threat posed to Tehran and Moscow and represent an effort by the West to tighten the noose around these two countries. The reason is that Tehran and Moscow have boosted their standing and influence at regional and international levels in recent years, on the one hand, while on the other hand, both of them insist on continuing their independent game outside of the West’s orbit while opposing its bullying expansionism.

In the meantime, although Russia, through its pragmatic approach, has tried at times to achieve an agreement with the West, Washington’s insistence on military development and the use of the “language of force” has caused many of such efforts to fail in practice. Therefore, this reality is being gradually accepted in Russia that to do away with threats emanating from West’s military expansionism, there is no way but “resistance.” This is the same conclusion which had existed in Iran since past times and Iran’s emphasis on the necessity to maintain the “axis of resistance” in the Middle East has been, in fact, an effort to underline the need to oppose the domination of the West’s “language of force and threat” on the region.

It goes without saying that if they act separately, the capabilities and potentialities of either Iran or Russia would not be adequate to head off threats posed by the West’s networked security threats. Past experience has also shown that their individual efforts aimed at this purpose have been costly while, at the same time, advances made by the West, have been a sign of inefficiency of such individual efforts. At the same time, the experience of interaction between Tehran and Moscow in the face of the West’s geopolitical aggression in Syria has been indicative of relative success of such interaction in more effective repelling of threats. Although it is not possible for Tehran and Moscow to form a “coalition” in the face of the West, and they are not willing to do this either, establishment of an “ad hoc coalition” between them could increase the efficiency of resistance against the West’s “language of force.”

With this point in mind, it is necessary for the “threat-based ad hoc interaction,” which currently forms the framework of security cooperation between Iran and Russia, including in Syria, to be replaced with a larger and more stable framework, because the current framework is of a temporary nature and has been set up to meet the two countries’ specific security and geopolitical goals in Syria. Naturally, when this issue is resolved, Tehran and Moscow will not have any specific basis to continue cooperation.

Creating a sustainable basis for interaction is not only useful, but also a necessity because West’s expansionism is a “long-term” threat against security of Iran and Russia and countering it in an effective manner needs a “long-term” framework. Although, Tehran and Moscow have different views on the “perception of threat” from the West, it seems that the goal of having a more sustainable framework through strengthening of institutionalism and closer cooperation between the two countries within such regional institutions as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and even the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is quite achievable.

Such a framework would not only be effective in helping the two countries counter symmetrical threats resulting from the West’s military expansion, but would be also useful for facing such asymmetrical threats as terrorism. Naturally, Iran and Russia would have ad hoc interaction within this framework and it would be possible for them to meet their security interests through other means and channels, even by the means of interaction with the West. However, institutional interaction would be a more effective response to threats and would also reduce the cost of individual efforts made by either country.

Key WordsNATO, Expansion, Missile Defense System, Common Threat, Iran, Russia, US, Military Base, Hegemony, West, Security, Eastern Europe, Poland, Baltic States, Ukraine, Georgia, Republic of Azerbaijan, Warsaw, Ad hoc Coalition, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Syria, Terrorism, Security Cooperation, Noori

More by Alireza Noori:

*Tactical Changes in Russia’s Foreign Policy and Iran's Caution: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Tactical-Changes-in-Russia-s-Foreign-Policy-and-Iran-s-Caution.htm

*Iran and the Principle of Balance and Containment in Russia's Middle East Policy: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran-and-the-Principle-of-Balance-and-Containment-in-Russia-s-Middle-East-Policy.htm

*Tactical and Geopolitical Interaction between Iran and Russia in Syria: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Tactical-and-Geopolitical-Interaction-between-Iran-and-Russia-in-Syria.htm

*Photo Credit: NBC News, OSNet Daily

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