The New Power Couple: Russia and Iran in the Middle East

01 Sep 2016

The New Power Couple: Russia and Iran in the Middle East

By Ellie Geranmayeh and Kadri Link

European Council on Foreign Relations Policy Brief

September 2016

 

Summary:

Iran-Russia relations have reached an unprecedented peak, fueled by military cooperation in Syria, a shared vision of the global order, and mutual criticism of Western policy in the Middle East.  

Tehran is a useful ally to Moscow in a highly unstable region, but it is just one thread in Moscow’s patchwork of important relationships that need careful balancing.

Moscow offers Tehran a critical means of protecting its regional security interests. However, Iran’s leadership is divided on how best to hedge bets between Eastern and Western powers to achieve the country’s strategic objectives.

Despite their differences, the war in Syria looks set to be the crucible of Moscow-Tehran cooperation for some time to come, given its centrality to the strategic ambitions of both parties.

Instead of pursuing policies that attempt to exploit divisions between Iran and Russia, Europe should use its limited leverage to reduce violence in Syria and, if possible, pave road for political transition later down the road. This can only happen with better understanding of the drivers of Iran and Russia's policy in the region.

 

Read more: https://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR_186_-_THE_NEW_POWER_COUPLE_RUSSIA_AND_IRAN_IN_THE_MIDDLE_EAST_PDF.pdf