The Russian economy is suffering and right wing nationalism is on the rise. Vladimir Putin and his geo-political apologist and ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, are waging an unlawful war of aggression in eastern Ukraine and building an anti-western alliance with Iran, a nation with which it previously maintained an icy distance. Russia and Iran have increased trade relations, especially over the past 5 years and they are involved in trade talks over nuclear technology, energy, arms sales, and have recently signed an intelligence agreement. The latter will enable them to share intelligence, operate joint facilities like SIGINT (Signals Intelligence i.e. Electronic and Cyber Warfare) on the Syrian-Lebanese border. This facility could gather intelligence on Israel and the United States. Any Iranian-Russian alliance must be given more consideration as it relates to the middle and near east, and the world.
In concert with the above circumstances, Iran is increasing its influence in the Middle East through a combination of diplomacy, military action and covert activities in support of its aim of expanding its political hegemony in the region. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has been touted by the world press as a moderate, which is backed up by the Iranian propaganda machine, and he has made friendly reasonable overtures in the UN regarding his position on Iran’s willingness to partner with the west to combat the Islamic State (IS). However, he has threatened to attack Israel if the US attacks IS forces in Syria. Iran’s IRGC Quds force (a known terrorist organization) and Iranian backed Shia militias are openly fighting in Iraq at the request of Iraq’s Shia dominated central government. These same forces have provided military support to the Assad regime for years without which the regime would have collapsed. Iran also supports the Houthis in Yemen who recently ousted the incumbent government. Iran continues to support the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups that the Quds force helped to establish. Given Iran’s close ties to Iraq’s central government – or its controlling influence over Iraq politically and militarily - it may be construed that if Iran is behind the military defeat of ISIL (which suspiciously kills Sunni tribes-people as well as other religious minorities) it will be in a position to press its influence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the region.
Given the rapidity with which the above events are unfolding, Iran is moving steadily but surely towards the geo-isolation of Israel (its sworn enemy) and the Saudi Kingdom with a “ring” of influence. In concert with Iran’s nuclear development program a dangerous geopolitical potential emerges. This danger is only exacerbated and multiplied by the prospect of the close alliance between Iran and Russia. Russia has announced an increase in future defence spending to overhaul its out-dated military machinery and has recently signed an agreement to sell more uranium and nuclear centrifuges to Iran. Russia’s nuclear agency announced in the beginning of November 2014 that it would build eight civilian nuclear reactors for Iran, a move that adds complexity and tension to ongoing Western negotiations over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
Moscow has helped Tehran produce nuclear-generated electricity since the early 1990s. News of the program’s sudden expansion came immediately prior to the latest round of international nuclear talks that aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear activities. Western powers for years have suspected Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons — a charge Tehran continually denies, claiming its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes such as electricity and medical needs. However, this claim has been undermined by research, intelligence breaches and Iran’s intransigence regarding inspections of its nuclear facilities. It is also clear that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is ineffective as in the case of North Korea. North Korea used its “inalienable right” under article IV of the treaty, to develop nuclear energy facilities, its enrichment capability and material required for energy generation, then withdrew from the NPT and quickly enriched its nuclear material to the weapons grade percentage. Soon after it tested its first nuclear weapon. It would appear that very little would stand in the way of Iran doing much the same. All the while Russia has pledged the latest assistance to Iran’s nuclear program while purporting to honor its obligations under the NPT.
To any student of history, a momentous shift in the balance of power is imminent in the near and middle east with the news of a Russian-Iranian alliance.