Thursday, 21 September, 2017

Russia’s use of Iranian airbase benefits both sides after US mistakes

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Russia’s use of an Iranian airbase to strike terrorist targets in Syria will strengthen the role of the two countries in the Middle East amid US policy mistakes in the region.

Beginning on Tuesday, Russian bombers took off from Hamadan base in western Iran for three consecutive days to strike terrorist targets in Syria.

For Russia, which has launched intensive in Syria since September, using an Iranian airbase in addition to its domestic airfields and the Syrian Hmeimim airbase helps cut the costs of military operations in Syria.

“The Iranian option allows lowering costs by saving kerosene and avoiding the need to refuel long-range bombers in the air,” Azhdar Kurtov, chief editor of the National Strategy Issues journal and a member of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Xinhua News Agency in an interview on Thursday.

The use of an Iranian airbase also implies deeper ties between Moscow and Tehran.

When a state allows the armed forces of another state to use, even temporarily, its territory to armed forces of another state, Kurtov said, it demonstrates a greater confidence between them.

The deal will also deepen Iran’s involvement in the region, as it gives it an impetus for it to play a more active part in the settlement of the Syria crisis, in addition to the lifting of sanctions.

However, Kurtov said that it is still too early to speculate about the contribution of the historic Moscow-Tehran cooperation model of air strikes to the political solution in war-torn Syria, as the efficiency of air strikes from Iran has yet to be assessed.

Meanwhile, he agreed that if they inflicted more damage to terrorists and forced them to retreat, then a solution to the Syria crisis could be found faster.

Furthermore, there is a “political component” behind the unprecedented move, which Kurtov believed is a demonstration to Washington that the US is not the only power that could carry out military operations by using airbases in Middle East countries.

So far, the US has been not happy following Russia’s use of the Iranian airbase, but it has not yet taken any concrete action.

US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner on Wednesday said that such a move is “not helpful” to the situation in the war-torn country, and Washington is assessing whether Russia’s move violated UN Security Council resolution 2231, which prohibits the supply, sale and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied the accusations, saying that Russian warplanes were used with Iran’s consent within the framework of an “anti-terrorist operation on the territory of Syria at the request of the legitimate Syrian government.”

“As the United States is directly responsible for conflicts in the Middle East, civil wars and the emergence of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, it has to take into account the fact that Iran and Russia are involved in active military operations aimed at rectifying the mistakes of US policy,” said Kurtov.

The article is a commentary from the Xinhua News Agency.

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