Iran, Russia and the current changes in the regional and global situation

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Iran, Russia and the current changes in the regional and global situation 21.06.2018 16:59


On May 28, 2018, the seminar "Iran, Russia and the current changes in the regional and global situation" jointly with the Institute of Political and International Studies (IPIS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) was held at the CIS Institute. Iranian diplomats led by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Russia Mehdi Sanaei and adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyed Rasul Mousavi participated in the seminar from the Iranian side.

Opening the international seminar, the first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots, the head of the Institute of CIS countries, K. Zatulin drew attention to the fact that before the US was a conservative force, which advocated the preservation of the status quo. However, at present, the erosion of Washington's policy leads to the fact that the foreign policy decisions it adopts are working to destabilize both the regional and the global situation.

Russia cannot but be concerned about the fact that the US, slamming the door, withdrew from the agreement on the so-called "nuclear deal" with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Such a policy of the US does not meet understanding even with their closest allies. So, the UK questions the success of US policy in the Middle East. And if in some ways the US administration is consistent, it is only to aggravate the regional situation both on the nuclear agreement with Iran and on the transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The only one who supports Washington on these two issues is Israel.

At the same time, fears are caused not only by US policy, but also by the intentions of some countries to adapt to this policy. In particular, Russia is concerned about Kazakhstan's consent to the creation in two ports on the Caspian Sea, albeit temporarily, transit (transshipment) bases of the US Armed Forces (US Armed Forces) for the delivery of military supplies to Afghanistan. Of course, it is worth discussing with the Kazakh side the need for such a step of Astana.

Russia has experience of cooperation with Iran in Syria. However, it is necessary to understand that the history of the so-called Islamic state is not closed: there is a desire to continue its existence not only in the United States, but also in some other countries. And the interest of the Institute of CIS countries in the situation in Syria was caused, among other things, by fears of the spread of the terrorist virus from Syria to the post-Soviet space.

Konstantin Zatulin also noted that in mid-April 2018, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin paid an official visit to Iran, where he met with Chairman of the Mejlis (Parliament) of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Larijani. The continuing contacts between the parliamentarians of our countries, which will help to disrupt the plans of those who wish to, engender confrontation between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran, including on the issue of religious affiliation.

As for Armenia, for Russia, displeasure with the authorities of this country was not a surprise. But we did not expect that the leadership of the Republic of Armenia (RA) would give up resistance and surrender power in the "lawful coup" regime. Russia took a neutral position on this issue, urging the parties not to go unconstitutionally. One of the reasons for these events was the violation by Serzh Sargsyan of his promise not to stand for the post of prime minister of the country.

In his turn, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Russian Federation Mehdi Sanaei noted that the development of relations between Iran and Russia has been growing over the past few years. This is evidenced by the fact that our presidents met 12 times. The next meeting is planned in June in Qingdao, during the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. During such meetings, the range of issues discussed is not limited to only the bilateral format, while also affecting regional problems. An example is our cooperation in the Middle East. What we achieved, we achieved by joint efforts. And when the so-called the Islamic state almost captured Iraq and intensified throughout Syria. Now it's a completely different situation. At the same time, the role of Iran's cooperation with Russia remains very important. And even if our relations are not called strategic partnerships, they have all the characteristics of strategic cooperation. Iran and Russia have their own views on the situation in Syria, but it is important that there is a mutual understanding in the trilateral - Iran-Russia-Turkey - format, and we need to pay more attention to common approaches, common fears, trying to resolve tactical differences.

Mehdi Sanaei touched upon one more aspect of cooperation - the signing of the Agreement on the Free Trade Area between the EAEU and Iran. Such an agreement except for Iran so far has only Vietnam. Reduction of tariffs under this agreement is all the more mutually beneficial, since 2017, Iran and the EAEU member countries have seen a significant increase in trade turnover.

Another area of cooperation is oil and gas. There are prospects for the development of not only bilateral but also regional cooperation - including a tripartite cooperation - in Iraq. Iran is negotiating with Gazprom on the use of its opportunities for the export of Iranian gas. In this connection, Mehdi Sanaei expressed hope for the soonest signing of the relevant treaty.

The Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran touched upon the issue of cooperation on the Caspian Sea. It is very important for Iran and for Russia that extra-regional forces do not influence the situation in this region.

It is also important to cooperate in the creation of the International Transport Corridor "North-South". The presidents of the three countries met in Baku in 2016 and in Tehran in 2017. Currently, the implementation of this project is attracting companies from many countries, including India and Indonesia.

As for the cooperation of Russia and Iran on the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Mehdi Sanaei noted that the implementation of Bushehr-2 and Bushehr-3 goes even ahead of plans for 2-3 months.

The Iranian ambassador commented on the questions he often asked journalists, including Russian ones, about the impact of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA on Russia's participation in joint projects with Iran. According to the Iranian side, it does not influence, since the IRI and the Russian Federation have common interests, and both countries are under US sanctions. What is important is that no one supports the US withdrawal from this agreement, except for known small states (such as Israel).

In conclusion, Mehdi Sanaei said that, unfortunately, Mohammed Kazem Sadjadpour, president of the Institute for Political and International Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, could not come to Moscow as planned, but sends the most sincere wishes to all participants of this event.

Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS countries Vladimir Zharikhin in his report "Russia-Iran interaction in modern geopolitical conditions" drew attention to the fact that the geopolitical situation is changing very dynamically now. The reality is that all US activity does not come from their strength, but weakness. If in the 1960’s, the United States accounted for 40% of world GDP, now it is only about 15%.

Actions on the recipes of XX century, especially in the format of world wars, are now impossible due to the presence of nuclear weapons, so the strategy of local conflicts comes to the forefront. It is in this context that we can note the tension around the nuclear program of North Korea, the situation in Ukraine and in Syria. This strategy uses two tools: the so-called "color revolutions" and full-scale provocations using the media.

And now, in "color revolutions", not young people are being used, but a simple but effective mechanism: the imposition of an extremely liberal state model of their corrupt government with subsequent disorientation at the right time. Somewhere this mechanism works, somewhere not. It does not work where there is no large-scale corruption or its factor are minimized.

If this mechanism fails - the Americans go to the second tool, to information aggression. At the same time, the West had to sacrifice what it was proud of - freedom of speech. After all, only with full control of the media are possible such provocations as the "case of the Scripals" or allegedly taking place from Damascus the use of chemical weapons against civilians in East Guta.

The expert noted that our countries neighboring for millennia have accumulated some claims to each other. And this situation can take advantage of the far countries, the so-called "the countries of the sea". However, in this situation, we need to leave a solution to these contradictions for the future.

In his opinion, it is necessary to move faster and more energetically from dollar dependence, to create own economic and financial structures.

The "Kazakhstan syndrome" shows that no matter how much they talk about the right of states to sovereignty, they cannot go anywhere from some coordination of their policy with their allies, as well as provide support to each other not only economically, but also politically. In this situation, our enemy will not be so terrible already.

The adviser of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Seyed Mousavi, in his speech stressed that at such meetings it is necessary to speak in the most transparent way and find a solution to common problems. According to him, at the moment, not only negative but also positive trends are taking place in Western Asia (which is meant in the Middle East and Iran). Thus, the parliamentary elections in Iraq went very well, and the country is expected to significantly improve its domestic political situation. And no matter how the situation in Iraq did not develop, the US position in this country will necessarily be weakened.

The parliamentary elections in Lebanon have successfully passed, and now the government is being formed there. In this regard, Seyed Mousavi noted that, firstly, the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) towards Lebanon changed in a positive way, and secondly, Saad Hariri, who said in Saudi Arabia "amazing things" and there he submitted to the resigned, has now changed his rhetoric and again participates in the elections as a candidate for the post of prime minister (on May 25 he was again elected prime minister of Lebanon).

As for Syria, by joint efforts, Iran and Russia managed to relatively stabilize the situation in this country, and if new factors do not arise, positive changes will increase. And Iraq, Lebanon and Syria are those countries that closely cooperate with Iran; they are on the path of stabilization. And vice versa, where there are regional allies of the United States - in Qatar and Yemen - destabilization is proceeding.

Seyed R. Mousavi noted that the elections in Turkey and the situation in Afghanistan will have an impact on the whole region.

From the Iranian point of view, the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) is of course a matter of concern, as is the US activation in Central Asia. Regarding Kazakhstan and the plans for the deployment of US bases, it should be pointed out that Astana's actions are contrary to the agreements of the five Caspian countries on the prevention of the outbreak of extra-regional states on the Caspian.

Some tension in the relations between Tajikistan and Iran is the result of the activities of Saudi Arabia. The policy of the KSA in Tajikistan needs to be paid special attention to prevent the outbreak of terrorism - both in Tajikistan itself and throughout Central Asia. In particular, the presence of the so-called militants of the Islamic state is possible in Uzbekistan.

As for the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, the Iranian side from the very beginning was clear that Donald Trump is trying to destroy everything that Barack Obama did, and accordingly, in Tehran, they forecasted this development of the situation. But Iran tried to make sure that the withdrawal from the JCPOA did not lead to the complete destruction of this treaty. According to him, "Iran prepared itself for the worst scenario, but is interested that the whole building of cooperation is not destroyed".

Senior researcher of the Iran sector of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Sazhin made a report "Nuclear deal" with Iran: what awaits us further?" According to the expert, the JCPOA can be viewed from different angles, but this compromise is a great merit of Hasan Rouhani and Barack Obama (in fact, and Vladimir Putin, which in the West try not to notice). But Donald Trump from the outset sought in these treaty vulnerable points for criticism, which, basically, amounts to the following:

- lack of control over all the facilities that may pertain to Iran's nuclear program (but this role is vested in the IAEA, not the US);

- lack of assurance that Iran will ultimately not create nuclear weapons (in reality, no one can give such a guarantee);

- the term of the contract is 10-15 years, but Iran has repeatedly stated that, even after its end, it is ready to remain committed to its provisions;

- there is no ban on the continuation of the program for the development and development of ballistic missiles in the LCPOA (it is impossible to confuse these two as a whole different problems);

- Iran's active military-political activities in the region (more Washington is not concerned about Tehran's activity in the Middle East, but its regional influence).

At present, there is still the possibility that Europe will persuade the US to leave it an opportunity to continue cooperation with Iran. In addition, with regard to sanctions against Iran, the EU has now repeated its experience of 1996, when it blocked the spread of sanctions imposed by the US against Cuba on its relations with Havana.

Vladimir Sazhin pointed out that the collapse of the JCPOA would deal a serious blow to the UN, the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the US image, the EU economy and Hassan Rouhani's positions in Iran (the whole of its policy was based on the JCPOA, and the failure of the accords is a gift to the radical forces in Iran).

The danger of the situation with the termination of the JCPOA is that the power in Iran can move to the opponents of cooperation with Europe, and they can resume the military part of the nuclear program. The United States, Israel and the KSA will not stand aside in this case, and we can talk about the beginning of a big war in the region. Ultimately, the destruction of the JCPOA is a threat to world security.

Head of the Economics Department of the Institute of the CIS countries Aza Migranyan presented her report "Free Economic Zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Islamic Republic of Iran". In her opinion, the relations between Russia and Iran in the world oil and gas market can be characterized, on the one hand, as a competition, and on the other, as a partnership, within which general compromise positions can be found.

In the two years between Russia and Iran, about 40 agreements have been signed, of which about $50 billion in the oil and gas sector. It seems that Russian companies will leave Iran, because of the US application for JCPOA, with the exception of those who already are under sanctions.

Rapid interaction in the sphere of financial and settlement systems can begin between Russia and Iran. In this context, one can note the agreement on the mutual distribution of the Russian system "MIR" and the Iranian payment and settlement platform, which means bypassing the SWIFT system in the interests of small and medium-sized businesses.

The recent conclusion of an agreement on the establishment of a free trade zone (FTA) with Iran for a transitional period of three years will not only reduce customs duties, but, more broadly, create a most-favored-nation regime in mutual trade, which is expected to grow by 1, 5 times. The agreement is a kind of "bridge" to FTA + in the form of free access to the markets of the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Arsen Melik-Shahnazarov noted that Artsakh was part of the Persian Empire for over 200 years. The border of Artsakh with Iran is about 135 km, and Armenia and Iran - 40. But due to certain reasons, currently trade and economic relations between Iran and Artsakh go through Armenia. Nevertheless, there is an example of bilateral direct relations - the construction of hydroelectric power stations on the border river Araks. He also recalled that as far back as 1992, Iran acted as an intermediary in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Deputy Head of the Caucasus Department of the Institute of CIS countries Sergey Sarkisyan in his speech spoke about the current state and prospects for the development of the Armenian-Iranian relations in the light of assessing the continuity of the policy of the new Armenian authorities; signing of the EAEU and Iran during the Astana Economic Forum Agreement on the establishment of a free trade zone; the prospects of projecting US sanctions against Iran on Armenian-Iranian relations, including the operation of the Meghri FTA. They also considered possible scenarios for the development of the military-political situation in the region in the context of escalation or partial resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Nikolai Bobkin, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Military and Political Studies of the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in his report "The Policy of the Trump Administration towards Afghanistan" noted that now in Afghanistan hostile to Iran military contingents are stationed: the Taliban, the Islamic state and the US Armed Forces. At its peak, the US Armed Forces group reached 120,000 troops, but by the end of Barack Obama's presidency, it had been reduced to 8,000. Donald Trump criticized his predecessor, first, for the hasty withdrawal of some US troops from Afghanistan, and secondly, for the excessively high amount of financial support for Hamid Karzai's regime: in 2018, for every serviceman of the 14,000-strong contingent (the expected numberfor each serviceman of the 14,000-strong contingent (the expected number at the end of the year) there are costs of $5,000- $6,000, and an additional $780 million for civilian assistance.

Donald Trump does not have a concept of a political solution to the Afghan problem. The mistakes made by the USA in the process of forming the AF of Afghanistan and Washington's unwillingness to cooperate with Moscow lead to a gradual deterioration of the situation in the country and a decrease in the fighting capacity of its army. The fact that about 70% of the command staff of the IRA consists of ethnic Tajiks does not find understanding in many provinces of the country, first of all, among the Pashtuns. And for three years, the loss of the Afghan army has increased three-fold.

Head of the Department of Central Asia and Kazakhstan of the Institute of CIS countries Andrei Grozin presented the report "The situation in Central Asia and the prospects for Russian-Iranian cooperation." According to him, Russia and Iran are interested, at least in preserving the current level of stability in Central Asia. At the same time, we can now speak about a certain period of regional detente. Until recently, Uzbekistan tried to conduct economic and military-political pressure on its neighbors in the region to pursue a profitable policy for itself. However, after the change of the president, Tashkent changed its policy to a more open and friendly.

However, the defeat of the so-called the Islamic state creates for the region a new dangerous situation: the militants migrate from Syria not only to Afghanistan, but also to the Central Asian republics. As a consequence, the CSTO and the SCO are increasingly focusing their attention on cross-border terrorist threats.

The main problem on the agenda of Russia and Iran on Central Asia, Andrei Grozin, is that cooperation has not yet been established on an institutional basis.

Senior researcher of the Center for the Study of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Ural and Volga Region of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Vorobyev in his speech noted that Tajikistan is part of the Persian-speaking world, and therefore, it is important for Iran. At present, Tajikistan is influenced by some countries, and first of all by the KSA, which leads to anti-Iranian activities in the country. For example, recently a rally was held condemning the so-called. "Iranian hegemony and the Council of Ulema of Tajikistan accused Iran of intending through its provocateurs to sow discord in Tajikistan and destroy peace and tranquility in the country. Moreover, in 2016-2017 Tajikistan openly blocked Iran's entry into the SCO as a full member.

Economic ties between the two countries are also deteriorating: in 2016-2017, bilateral trade fell to a level of $100 million. The expert noted that good relations were maintained only as long as Iran provided considerable financial support to Tajikistan. And after its substantial reduction, Dushanbe began to reorient itself to other sources of external financing, including the KSA.

However, Saudi Arabia does not invest in major infrastructure projects in Tajikistan, but limits itself to such as, for example, strengthening river banks, building schools and implementing programs to combat the spread of HIV. As practice shows, the financial and cultural penetration of KSA leads to the growth of radical sentiments. Neither Russia nor Iran is interested in this. In addition, tensions in bilateral relations affect regional economic projects, including within the framework of the Chinese initiative "One belt, one way".

In the short and medium term, relations between Tajikistan and Iran will remain tense. The way out of this situation is possible, first, through increasing the financial support of Tajikistan by Iran, and secondly, in strengthening the joint policy of Russia and China to change the position of Dushanbe against Iran.

Leading researcher of the Center for Partnership of Civilizations of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Yuri Zinin, made a presentation at the seminar on "A Difficult Way to Settle the Syrian Crisis." He stated that Russia actually blocked the recurrence in Libya of the Libyan scenario. At the same time, in his opinion, the US policy towards Syria seeks to show that the shift of the ruling authorities can also take place under a more "positive" scenario, which, however, turned out to be not so successful in practice.

At present, the peak of confrontation between government forces and the opposition has been left behind. In Syria, at the moment, there is no epicenter of radical ideas of Islamism, but its centers are scattered all over the country. To consolidate the West, the opposition did not succeed; its funding went to pieces, which discouraged the sponsors themselves. The information war against Damascus is aimed at putting him out as an outcast and frustrating possible talks with him. At the same time, the credibility of the current Syrian authorities remains high, as evidenced by the fact that immediately after the army's release of the next settlement, its inhabitants immediately return to it.

Vladimir Evseev, Deputy Director, Head of the Caucasus and Eurasian Integration and Development Departments of the CIS Institute of the CIS Countries, in his report "Russian-Iranian Cooperation for the Settlement of the Syrian Crisis" suggested that the next direction of the offensive by the government forces would be Deraa Province with the aim of eliminating the southern zone of de-escalation. In this regard, it is necessary to minimize the influence of Israel and Jordan on countering the forthcoming military operation. According to the expert, the joint policy of Russia and Iran on the situation around Deraa should be to contain Israel and to neutralize Jordan. And in the future - the gradual extrusion of US bases deployed in southern Syria

At the moment, two zones of de-escalation have already been eliminated - in the northern part of Homs and in East Gut, near Damascus. The situation around the de-escalation zone in Idlib remains unchanged, as Russia needs Turkey's support for pressure on the Syrian Kurds. And the events of recent months have shown that Syria's air defense is fully capable of neutralizing the Israeli air force.

Kirill Frolov, Head of the Department for Relations with the Russian Orthodox Church of the Institute of CIS Countries, in his speech with the report "Civilization Dialogue between Russia and Iran on the Basis of Orthodox and Islamic Eschatology" noted that for the development of bilateral relations between Russia and Iran in the religious-spiritual sphere, only at the level of the higher clergy, but also constant communication between the Orthodox and Muslim civil society.

At the end of the discussion, the Iranian delegation expressed the wish to continue the meetings at the expert level of the two countries to develop scientific and friendly relations between the information and analytical centers of Iran with the Institute of CIS countries and leading Russian experts - orientalists.


V. Evseev, S. Sarkisyan