Russia’s perspective: The Winter of Iran’s Discontent
wave of Iranian protests is not dying out. Angry people continue
to hit the streets and the feeling of discontent has not evaporated. The slogans show they mean business. With
little information coming out, it’s impossible to make any assessments. The
protesters appear to have no leaders and it’s hard to say if their actions are
organized. Some people may welcome the events,
some adopt negative attitude and some may be reserved, taking a wait-and- see approach.
the protests incited from outside? On January 29, ambassadors from the United
Nations Security Council were
offered a field trip to inspect remnants of Iranian weapons supposedly
illegally supplied to insurgents in Yemen. The ambassadors visited the
White House where President Donald Trump told them about the need “Iran’s destabilization activities in the
Middle East.” It’s worth to note that the event took place on the eve of
the renewal of the protests in Iran on Jan. 30. Was it a coincidence? Everybody has their own opinion but the last
time the US Ambassador
to the UN Nikki Haley presented
what she called “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation was in mid-December, 2017. A
wave of protests hit Iran in early January 2018. A few days after, the US introduced
new sanctions on Iran. This is just an observation, nothing more.
is an internal affair of Iran, of course, though sympathies may differ. Unlike
the US, the EU, Israel or Saudi Arabia, Russia has not taken sides, calling on
other actors not to meddle. It’s really neutral. Iranian people are the ones to
decide what’s better for them. The only
thing to do is to keep the fingers crossed hoping there will be no bloodshed.
It’s worth to consider nothing but facts in an unbiased way. Some
consequences to impact the situation in the Middle East are unavoidable. No matter
how strong the Russia’s air force presence in Syria is, it cannot keep the
Assad’s government in power without boots on the ground. Military cooperation between Russia and Iran
is crucial to keep the situation under control and prevent the resumption of
to scenario number one, the rebels win, the ayatollahs’ regime in Tehran is toppled
and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards formations are rapidly withdrawn from Syria.
Another scenario-the regime quells the rebellion, with a smoldering large-scale
conflict to last for a long time. In
both cases the outcome is the same – the Revolutionary Guards will have to
leave Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and return home to protect the government. Iraq will inevitably become less pro-Iranian
and more pro-US. In any of these scenarios, Iranian ground forces will partially
or fully withdraw from Syria and someone will have to fill the void.
turn of events is quite unexpected as everyone believed the Iran’s government
was stable. But you never know. After all, nobody expected the Iranians to oust
the US-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi
it’s highly probable that Russia will have to rush in more troops, or rather
military police for peacekeeping missions, into Syria. The action could be
coordinated with Syria, Turkey, Iran and other key players. Diplomatic efforts,
such as the Russia’s “Syrian People’s
held in Sochi, must be
intensified manifold. One should be realistic – with Iran gone, Persian Gulf
monarchies and their supports will come in.
does not necessarily mean intensification of combat actions. One of the ways to
mitigate the probable reduction of Iranian and pro-Iranian forces is the
intensification of diplomatic efforts. Russia has an important advantage – it’s
friendly with everyone. It can lead an international coalition of pertinent
actors. Iran’s reduced presence in Syria will not automatically lead to resumption of
hostilities across the country. This scenario can be avoided. But the increase
of boots on the ground will top the agenda. Nobody wants it, everyone tried to avert it
but one cannot ignore reality – it’s either more ground troops to support the
government of Assad or sliding back to where we were before Russia lent a helping
hand to Assad in September 2015.
promotes an all-inclusive dialogue in Syria. Being friendly with everyone
except jihadi terrorists, makes Moscow the key broker of a peace deal. It is in unique position to head the process
and achieve what nobody else can – a peace settlement in Syria. It does not
apply to Syria only but rather
the entire Middle East.