Sense of Retrenchment and Russia Using Iran’s Air Base to Fight Terrorism in Syria

Monday, August 22, 2016

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

Following the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 and two years after the US-led anti-Daesh coalition started its strikes in Syria, official confirmation on August 16, 2016 of Russia using Iran’s Nojeh Air Base in Hamedan, to fight terrorism in Syria is considered as a serious development in Iran’s foreign policy approach.

This level of cooperative tolerance on the part of Iran toward such an important international actor as Russia can be considered as an effect of the international community’s return to Iran option in order to effectively settle regional crises and challenges. Such a return to Iran option by big powers started after the achievement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on July 14, 2015, and by inviting Iran to take part in negotiations on Syria crisis in late October 2015. It provided grounds for international actors to normalize relations with Iran and end international discrimination toward this actor compared to other important regional actors such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel.

Such an unprecedented turnaround in the way Iran enters regional coalitions following World War II is materialization of the country’s placement in new regional retrenchment as opposed to simple “strategic cooperation” with Russia in fighting against terrorism in Syria, and it serves to restore strategic stability to international equations. Iran’s geopolitical and geostrategic advantages and well-wishing intentions of this actor in supporting balance of power in the Middle East in addition to the necessity of seriously supporting regional nation-states in their fight against terrorism and the need to counter secessionism, divisionism, and extremism can be enumerated among major driving forces that have prompted Iran to work with Russia and allocate its strategic capacities and advantages to serious fight against Daesh through Hamedan air base.

The concern about whether Iran’s recent decision contradicts its fundamental foreign policy approach, which is based on balance and security, should be addressed on the basis of the country’s need to put its sense of retrenchment into action under current changing, complicated, uncertain and unpredictable conditions that surround the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy environment.

It is an undeniable fact that Iran has serious concerns about new effective regional developments in the third millennium, especially with regard to the five-year crisis in Syria. Therefore, Tehran believes that the legitimate government in Syria is one of the most important components of security-building fronts in the Middle East and is among the main spheres of Iran’s influence in the region. As a result, when it comes to finding a political settlement to the crisis in this country on the basis of important resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council, including resolutions 2249, 2254, and 2268, Iran and Russia have common strategic concerns.

Iran’s cooperation with Russia in supporting the war on terror in the Middle East proves the claim that Iran forms a major part of very strong solutions to many important global crises such as the crises in Syria and Iraq and the crisis created by Daesh, and therefore, it cannot be strategically and tactically ignored by any other actor. High vulnerability of global and regional powers with regard to resolution of important global crises in 2016 has pushed them in the direction of Iran. On the other hand, Iran has also accepted to engage in such cooperation with Russia in line with its sense of retrenchment, which is a major component of its expediency-based, balance-seeking, and security-building foreign policy discourse and strategy.

After the show of such cooperative spirit by Tehran, now the ball is in the court of major global actors to make the most of Iran’s stabilizing and balancing capacities to restore peace and tranquility to all important security complexes, including the Middle East, the European Union, Eurasia, and South Asia. All evidence attests to the fact that the election of the United States’ 45th president would be followed with a new wave of serious return to Iran option. If this really happens and assuming that Iran would possibly take part in this equation, this regional actor would turn into an effective component of new regional coalitions.

All the aforesaid developments show that important regional and international actors are going to be subject to a historical commitment to Iran’s regional role in order to take advantage of the country’s stabilizing and security-building capacities to solve important global issues. Under these conditions, Iran’s role in restoring relative stability to neighboring regions through well-wishing cooperation with such effective actors as Russia, despite frequent breach of their promises with regard to Iran during past few decades, would undoubtedly be impartially judged and lauded by history. Such historical judgment would prove how and to what extent the effective cooperation between Iran and Russia in August 2016 has been instrumental in restoring stability and sustainable security to security complexes around it and also in doing away with the threat of terrorism and extremism.

Key WordsSense of Retrenchment, Russia, Iran, Air Base, Terrorism, Syria, Foreign Policy, Iran Option, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Regional Coalitions, Daesh, Middle East, Security-Building, Extremism, Khoshandam

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

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*One Year after the Iran Deal and the Choice of Reconciliatory Strategic Necessity:

*Iran under the Shadow of the Sykes-Picot Agreement:

*Photo Credit: TASS/Barcroft Media