Russia, US and China Playing with Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran Cards

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

During the last week of September 2015, leaders of a number of big powers in international community called for Iran's cooperation in a bid to make a more serious move toward resolution of the ongoing crisis and the civil war in Syria. Based on basic realities and existing global threats resulting from the Syria crisis, these leaders, who included the US president, the French president, the British prime minister, and the secretary general of the United Nations, called for constructive participation and role of Iran as well as its bandwagoning participation in the management of this crisis.

Existing evidence shows that the crisis in Syria should be seen in the light of other international crises and major security threats of 2015. The most important of these global threats include the ongoing crises in Ukraine, Iraq, Yemen and even Palestine. The interests, influence, and role of such powers as the United States, France, the UK, Russia, Germany and China in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine crises cannot be denied. The covert logic that connects these crises together on the basis of interactions among the big powers is that the United States and Russia are playing with Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and Iran cards as a result of the nature of the world order and its impact on international relations.

Following revelations about the military presence of Russians at an air base near the Syrian city of Latakia, relations between Russia and the United States in global developments of 2015 have gone beyond relative hostility that existed in the past two years, and have gradually entered a new phase of limited and topical exchange of views. Under present circumstances, the United States sees Russia as a “regional power” not as a “big power.” Therefore, Washington is not wiling for important international issues to be managed by a “regional power” called Russia in cooperation with other big powers.

On the other hand, Russia considers itself as a “big power” on the same par with China, France, the UK, the United States and other emerging powers. In doing this, Russia is especially trying to take advantage of any tools for defensive, offensive and interactive rivalry with the power of the United States and the European Union at global level. More serious cooperation with China, including the USD-400-billion gas contract that Russia and China signed in May 2014 according to which Russia will supply China’s needed gas for the next 30 years, is among these tools. Under such circumstances, playing cards like Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and Iran are also considered as Russia’s foreign policy tools for bargaining with the United States and Europe in such areas as tactical dealings, management of regional and international security arrangements, give-and-take with big powers, and meeting maximum degree of Russia’s national interests.

An Eurasia-oriented Russia is currently afraid of the threat of color revolutions, a change in political regime and disintegration of itself and its allies, possible change in its domestic structure, possible threat of aggression against certain parts of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and also from a future without allies in the global arena in view of the experiences it has had in Libya, Ukraine, and Syria. In addition and under present circumstances, Russia sees ISIS as an emerging threat to its national security, especially in Central Asia and Caucasus. In the Western front, due to the ongoing migrants and refugee crisis and despite geopolitical and geostrategic rivalries among big powers in the field of international security, eradication of ISIS has turned into a strategic and security priority for both the West and the East.

The United States and Russia playing with Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and Iran cards is just part of the effort made by the big powers to gain a better global standing, develop their spheres of influence and make a more profound impact on this game. Major victims of the new game launched by Russia and the United States in international arena are the European Union and Middle East, while China will be the big winner of this game. In this game, Russians and Americans are directly and indirectly destroying the European Union and Middle East while helping China to rise in geopolitical field of Eurasia and Middle East and also in international economy.

Both the existing and emerging facts show that Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are now considered as useless cards for Russia to play them against the Western front and in the course of ordinary give-and-take in international arena. Under these conditions, Russia’s main trump card in bargaining with the Western front is the Iran card. However, the difference between the Iran card and other playing cards is that Iran is currently a “regional power” endowed with smart power based on public diplomacy as well as regional and international popularity, which pursues many of its foreign policy issues in accordance with its own national interests. Therefore, possible serious détente between Iran and the West will lead to collapse of Russia’s foreign policy at international level.

Constructive and balanced action by Iran in the area of foreign policy will enable the country to help resolve these crises on the basis of its effective, fundamental and cooperative role. It seems that in four out of five crises in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine, it is Iran, not Russia, that can play the fundamental, key and problem-solving role. Subsequently, in view of its regional role, capacities, and international experiences it has gained in the past century of the world history, Iran is now considered as a problem-solving and game changing actor with regard to important international crises in 2015. Therefore, any international actor, including Russia, trying to play the Iran card in order to gain more concessions or use Iran simply as a tool, would only postpone achievement of possible solutions to global crisis in 2015, because Iran's action and dynamism with regard to the arena, rules and future outlook of the game that aims to resolve global crises in 2015, are undeniable, unavoidable, certain and impossible to be ignored.

Key Words: Russia, US, China, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Civil War, Yemen, Iran, Cards, International Crises, European Union, Middle East, Geopolitical and Geostrategic Rivalries, Khoshandam

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

*Daesh Making, Daesh-ism, and Daesh-phobia in Iran’s Peripheral Regions:

*Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine Crises: Returning to Iran's Option:

*Iran, MENA Refugee Crisis and Its Consequences:

*Photo Credit: Dr. Rich Swier, The Syrian Free Press