Alireza Nouri

The Pattern of Active Balance and Deterrence in Iran-Russia Relations in Syria

Date of publication : January 16, 2018 22:02 pm
Russia's President Vladimir Putin aboard a plane on his way to the Russian Hmeimim airbase on December 11, 2017

One of the major deficiencies in Iran-Russia relations during the post-Soviet period is its instability and the fact that it is influenced by third variables, especially the “West”. Therefore, a question has always been raised whether a stable basis can be defined for these relations? In response to this question, avoiding one-dimensional black-and-white look at Tehran-Moscow relations and stressing on a realistic approach to the set of differences and commonalities, agreements and disagreements of the two countries, we argue that Iran and Russia’s positive experience in Syria in implementing the model of "active balance and deterrence" against symmetrical (US aggressive policy) and asymmetric (terrorism (ISIL)) threats can be re-used in other areas of their common interests.
Considering the security and geopolitical imperatives, this model can be used to relatively stabilize relations and as a basis for long-term interactions. These necessities are; 1) changing regional and international conditions and the instability caused by transition of the international and regional systems to the new ones, 2) US emphasis on the continuation of aggressive policy in the international arena, including against Iran and Russia and on implementing long-term strategy of pressure on these countries, which is evident in the form of sanctions and military containment and 3) persistence and increase of asymmetric threats, including international borderless terrorism, which by themselves or by manipulation of some countries will challenge the interests of Iran and Russia now and in the future.
Afghanistan is an arena where this pattern can be implemented. Although Afghanistan is different from Syria, in this country are the same three immediate security and geopolitical necessities that forced Iran and Russia to cooperate in Syria; 1) Afghanistan's contribution in instability in the region around this country, 2) US’s use of Afghanistan to geopolitical containment of Iran and Russia and 3) threats of transboundary terrorism (Taliban and ISIL).
Although the security and geopolitical emergencies in Syria “forced” Iran and Russia to cooperate in a non-selective manner, the two countries with a selective, innovative, collaborative and mutually beneficial approach can interact with each other to reduce and eliminate the symmetrical and asymmetrical threats arising from this country. The type of this cooperation is not necessarily military and active balance and deterrence can take place in different ways. At the same time, such cooperation will continue to be "selective", will have its own limitations and the broad interpretation of it, such as the issue of Iran-Russia interaction in Syria, is not correct.
© Institute for Regional Studies (IRS)

Alireza Nouri, an assistant professor at Shahid Beheshti University (SBU), is the fellow at IRAS

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