Putin to Visit Iran as Islamic Republic’s Bargaining Power Is on Rise

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Elaheh Koolaee

Both before the election of the ninth Iranian administration and after it, relations between Iran and Russia have accounted for one of the most important aspects of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy. As put by [the Iranian President] Dr. Hassan Rouhani, relations with Russia have an important position in Iran's foreign relations and various developments have helped to further strengthen security and political ties between the two countries in the region. One of the most important aspects of these developments has been the recent emphasis put by the leaders in both countries on the need to promote further cooperation between the two states. Of special importance here is the recent nuclear deal [struck by Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers] in [the Swiss city of] Geneva. The nuclear deal has further underlined the importance of ties between Tehran and Moscow given the fact that the Geneva deal may lead to future improvement of Iran's relations with the United States, in particular, and the West, in general.

The Russians have constantly tried to take the best advantage of tense relations between Iran and the West. At the same time, recent developments in the region have once more highlighted the importance of relations between the two countries more than any time before. One of these developments is extensive activities by Jihadist and Salafist forces in Syria. The enormous threat posed by such activities to the interests of Russia and Iran has increased the importance of closer collaboration between the two countries. Another factor which has further necessitated such a cooperation between Tehran and Moscow is the presence in Syria of warriors from Chechnya and other autonomous republics of Russia in the Central Asia and Caucasus. This issue has increased the importance of Syria developments for the Kremlin. Of course, when it comes to economic and trade ties, the volume of exchanges between the two countries has greatly increased, though mostly in favor of Russia. However, cooperation in social and cultural areas has not developed remarkably.

As said before, Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, have made the most of the developments that have taken place in Iran during the three decades that have passed since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in the country. Of special importance was the intensification of confrontation between Iran and the West in various areas which provided Russia with unprecedented opportunities and Moscow took extensive advantage of those opportunities. At present, new developments have taken place in Iran's relations with the West, especially with the United States, whose early signs were visible in the recent Geneva agreement. Such developments can have direct effects on the Russia’s interests in relation to Iran. [The Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s visit to Iran under the former Iranian administration [of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] took place at a time that international pressures were piling up on Iran. Putin’s visit, which took place for the participation in the summit meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral countries, clearly revealed Russia’s upper hand in relations with Iran.

However, measures taken for the implementation of the Geneva agreement and the successful foreign policy approach taken by the new Iranian administration to building confidence with the international community will undoubtedly have immediate and direct positive effects on the country’s economy by paving the way for the all-out development of the country. As a result, Russia will be prompted to take rapid actions in order to further improve its ties with Iran and maintain the position that it has in Iran's foreign policy. If Putin visits Iran before the end of the current Iranian calendar year (which ends on March 20, 2014) a new atmosphere of cooperation will govern the two countries’ relations. This time, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be able to engage in bargaining at different levels and in a better position in order to guarantee its interests. The increasing bargaining power of Iran and its ability to regulate its relations with Russia, can make up for the country’s past failures in various areas of foreign policy, including for determining the shares of Caspian Sea littoral states from undersea energy resources. At any rate, Russia is a powerful neighbor. Therefore, development and regulation of relations with Russia has been always of high importance to our country. As a result, any kind of expansion in Iran's relations with the West should not be carried out at the cost of ignoring any part of the extensive benefits that good relations with Russia will have for Iran. The forthcoming visit to Iran by Putin will take place at a time that our country will be in a better position, as a result of the Geneva nuclear deal, to take decisive steps for the regulation of its relations with Russia.

*Dr. Elaheh Koolaee is an Iranian political scientist and intellectual. She is professor of political science at Tehran University

Key Words: Putin, Iran, Russia, Iran’s Bargaining Power, President Hassan Rouhani, P5+1 Group of World Powers, Geneva Agreement, Caspian Sea Littoral States, Koulaei

Source: Etemaad Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Photo Credit: Press TV

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