Russia...Iran and the source of tension in eastern Syria
Tension between Russian and Iranian forces are increasing in Syria as Russian troops stationed in eastern Syria blocking Iranian allies from being emplaced at a number of points near the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Economic interests control the conflict between the Russians and the Iranians in Syria. However, the conflict does not escalate to a direct military confrontation as promoted. Russia has announced its unwillingness to hustle Iran out of Syria after the RUSSIAN-US-ISRAELI tripartite meeting in Jerusalem.
Russia's national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, strongly defended Tehran at the Tel Aviv summit. He stressed that Russia rejects the demonization of Iran and rejects Israeli attacks in Syria—saying it is unwelcomed.
The former deputy foreign minister of Iran, Hussein Gabri Ansari, had stressed earlier that Tehran and Moscow have different views regarding Israel. However, there are common interests with Russia in Syria.
The Russian-Iranian rivalry in Syria is still going on and away from foreign policies. The internal conflicts between the two sides have reached the level of the recruitment in the army and security forces of the Syrian regime. It is kind of imposing influence within the security institutions.
The appearance of the Syrian regime leader, Bashar al-Assad, at Khmeimim air base accompanied by Russian president Vladimir Putin, and then flying over to Iran to take some photos, was the absolute proof of the contention between the two sides to assert al-Assad’s influence in Syria.
The Russian fear of the Iranian military and economic expansion in Syria remains constant for many reasons. First, unveiling the Iran-Syria railway project via Iraq which passes through the province of Deir al-Zour where the last alert took place. Second, Iran's taking over Lattakia port which will be the last stop of the railway line.
Iran is seeking to secure the Iran-Syria railway route, which is planned to begin from the border town of Bou Kamal— now under joint control of Syrian regime forces and Iranian-backed militias.
This land route is a key goal for Iran; it ensures a supply route for arms transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon and facilitates the movement of militias it supports, as well as being an alternative route to Gulf waters. Director of the Iranian railway lines, Saeed Rasooli, confirmed during a meeting with his Syrian and Iraqi counterparts a few days ago that the railway line would start from the port of Imam Khomeini in Iran, passing through Shalmja on the Iraqi border and the Iraqi city of Basra to reach the port of Lattakia.
The Russians and the Iranians have gathered to defend the weakened Syrian regime and Assad's survival at the helm of the system, but Russia's concern about Iran's presence on the Mediterranean is a strong source for confronting Iranian projects in Syria. Russia wants to be the main power on the east coast of the Mediterranean. Tartus port, which Russia has rented for 49 years, is its sole guarantee in the region.
The conflicting economic interests of both sides are likely to develop these skirmishes and disputes and turn them into a military confrontation, since the proliferation of Iranian militias in Syria poses a clear threat to the Russian presence in the region.