DAILY BASKET OF COMMENTARIES
RUSSIAN BOMBERS BASED IN IRAN!
Wow, So many birds with one stone. Is this a game changer in the Middle East?
It was reported yesterday (Tue Aug 16, 2016) that long range Russian bombers flew out of an Iranian military airfield to bomb targets in Aleppo, Syria. This is the first time in over thirty years that a foreign a military presence is seen in Iran. And a first for the Russian military in Iran. What does this mean?
The Syrian regime: especially as far as the battle of Aleppo is concerned. It gives Russian bombers better logistics and efficacy (Shorter flight time and, hence, more strikes per plane).
Iran: It suddenly has a Russian air base – or a semi air base. This will make it less of an appetizing target for a US or Israeli sudden preemptive strike. Additionally, it counters the US, French and other military bases in the GCC countries and reduces their psychological threat.
With a strengthening of its back bone, Iran may become more assertive in its regional politics. One early indication of this may be yesterday’s (Tuesday Aug 16, 2016) statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, who remarked that Saudi Arabia has to accept Iran’s role in the region, and stop acting negatively. And adding, that Iran’s patience has limits!
Russia: This confirms its rising star as a power to be reckoned with in the Middle East. The vacuum that the US’s Asian Pivot will create may be filled, or partially filled, by Russia who now, technically, has two air bases at both ends of the fertile crescent – Will more follow?
Also, the concept of two bases spreads the Russian eggs in more than one basket, thus reducing the risks for Russian planes and personnel on the ground.
Iraq: Its continuous grumbling about insufficient US air support and its occasional mild threats to call in Russian air support has suddenly become within easy and close reach.
The GCC: with the American Mama Bear abandoning the region, the Russian Papa Bear may step in and thus open a Pandora’s box.
For one, Russia has been badly hurt by the oil price crash, and would certainly look for ways to address the matter. Secondly, one of Russia’s top security issues is the elimination of Islamic insurgency and terrorism that could threaten it internally. By being closer to incubation region, it may find it necessary to take preventive action at close range.
USA and NATO: this is another indication that their grip on the Middle East is being effectively challenged. The so-far popular “Policy Regime Changes”, may no longer deliver the desired results.
Turkey: If it had a strategy of Islamic dominance in the region, then this may have been further weakened. The internal and external turn of events in Turkey since November 2015, seem to have turned the variables upside down. Additionally, its recent Russian reconciliation and the strengthening of Russian military presence (in Iran) could induce it to reconsider its strategies, tactics and alliances.
This is a new development, and any way you look at it, does not seem to be healthy for the region. Bringing home big guns may give you a false sense of security, but it also increases the chances of your accidentally shooting yourself.