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Wednesday, 25 May 2022
  • The controversial partnership between the two sponsors of the Assad regime, Moscow and Tehran

The controversial partnership between the two sponsors of the Assad regime, Moscow and Tehran
Zara saleh

Despite the fact that Russia and Iran are the major sponsors of the Syrian regime due to mutual interests, and their partnership also is based on pragmatic reasons during the Syrian conflict. For example, in the military aspects, both countries are engaged with the key positions in the Syrian security forces and the Syrian military as well in purpose to maintain their decision-making influence. While Iran is trying to keep the presence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the other Shia militias affiliated with them such as Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia militia groups. Whereas the Russian essential role is to support and renovate the Syrian National Army. Furthermore, in 2015 Moscow started the military intervention to save the Assad regime by sending the air forces and that was also Iran's idea through the former Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani who was behind convincing the Russian President Vladimir Putin and cooperating with Iran. Later on, with the changing dynamic on the ground in Syria, Russia began a new initiative with Iran and Turkey as co-guarantors through the Astana Process as a parallel process to the UN-led Geneva talks for Syria to strengthen Assad’s legitimacy. However, both two countries do not share the same insights into Syria's future, and they’ll have to face serious strategic challenges on the ground.

 At the same time, it has been obvious through the potential disagreement between the two allies. Tehran and Moscow have always been in competition as attempting to get access to the Syrian economic resources.  Iran, on the other hand, has recently signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to implement the construction of a railway between Iran and Iraq known Shalamcheh-Basra railway. The project is expected to take place within the next month that aimed to establish a channel with Syria. It seems like a part of Syria's reconstruction deal as Iran is planning to do with its strategy to reconnect Tehran with Lebanon through Iraq and Syria. Consequently, it will entrench the Iranian influence and will be in advance of Tehran Shia logistic plan and to occupy more Arab countries in the Middle East.

Once the Syrian conflict enters the post-conflict reconstruction phase, Moscow and Tehran will almost continue to expand their influence and competition to get access to the main economic resources such as the energy sectors and phosphate mining. As both countries desire to recover financially their military cost of intervention in the Syria civil war. They also might continue to collaborate at some levels that entrench the legitimacy of the Syrian regime to return to the Arab League and to undermine the American Caesar sanctions. Such sanctions have already blocked the foreign investments to enter Syria and to participate in the reconstruction process in the post-conflict.

As a result, the growing Iranian military presence on the ground with Hezbollah and carrying heavy weapons will affect the security sectors and would exacerbate the state of military-civil relations in Syria. That will definitely, lead to more Israeli airstrikes on Hezbollah and Iranian bases which Russia has already agreed with the US and Israeli government as it was such a red line for Tel Abib. Consequently, Russia-Iran unravelling marriage of convenience might end up due to the increasing divergences in the battle of influences and that will pit them against each other as they don't share the same vision about Syria's future as a long-term strategy.


BY: Zara Saleh