Russia’s use of an Iranian air base to bomb targets in Syria sends a message to Washington as it weighs a military partnership with Moscow — join us or we’ll look to your enemies.
Tuesday’s missions were unprecedented. Iran allowed Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to strike opposition targets in Syria. The move came with little notice to the U.S., which has watched helplessly the escalating bloodshed near Aleppo.
On Wednesday, Moscow launched a second day of airstrikes, rejecting U.S. suggestions that its cooperation with Tehran might violate a U.N. resolution as illogical and factually incorrect.
Cosying up to Tehran
The bombing runs from a base near the Iranian city of Hamedan, 175 miles southwest of Tehran, may have been a reminder to the Obama administration that Moscow could be cosying up to Iran if Washington doesn’t come around.
“The Russians are showing they have options in Syria,” said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He said the operations also cement Russia’s alliance with Iran in the region.
Russia and Iran have strongly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the civil war, with rebel groups supported by the U.S. and allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. When Russia intervened militarily in Syria last August, the West claimed privately that its action would ultimately sideline Iran and its proxy Hezbollah force in Syria, making Mr. Assad more conciliatory in a peace process.
The latest Russian-Iranian coordination would suggest Tehran isn’t being sidelined. It is virtually unheard of in recent Iranian history for a foreign power to use an Iranian base to stage attacks.
If Russia is moving closer to the Assad-Iran-Hezbollah alliance, it could spell doom for Syria’s besieged Opposition.
[Source: The Hindu]