Video: The Iranians and the Russians Are Not Natural Allies

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Amb. Dore Gold - One of the things that we miss in discussions about Iran, Russia, and Israel is the fact that the Iranians and the Russians are not natural allies. One of the underlying assumptions of the permission the Russians give to the Iranians to be in Syria is that the Russian conflict is with the Sunni Muslims. It's the Sunni Muslims in the Sunni states that have supported the Mujahideen in the Caucasus, and that's the Russians' number-one national security concern. I think they're making a huge mistake because the Shia extremists in Iran have been supporting Sunni extremists for years. So the policy of going after Sunni states and supporting the Shia intervention in Syria can boomerang against Russia. In my communications with the Russians, we would often go into these details. It was an argument that they could understand. They didn't speak about Iran as a country with similar values or as a country that they are so firmly allied with. Why are the Russians in Syria? Do they want to show the world, and the Arab world as well, that, unlike the United States with Mubarak, they don't abandon their allies? It could be that they have other motivations to reestablish their global position vis-a-vis the United States. A third goal is because the Chechens and other Mujahideen from the Transcaucasus have been involved in Syria, and so a victory of jihadi Islam in Syria, from their perspective, will affect their security directly. I think something is going to happen that will shift the Russian policy at some point, but I can't say when. I can say these are not allies that are locked together for cooperation for the long term. I think something is going to separate them from one another. Russia is more of a status quo power, meaning it achieved what it hoped to achieve, and it wants to preserve what it achieved in Syria. The Iranians are still a revolutionary power, and they're not only just employing their own forces. The big story in Syria are the Shia militias, which come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and they are there to upset the applecart, which is not the Russian interest. If Russia's achievements will be put at risk because of Iranian policy, I see a serious conflict. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center. This is from his presentation at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya on Feb. 12, 2019.

2019-02-20 00:00:00

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