Iran Joining Russia in Building Naval Bases in Syria

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The Middle East balance of power is changing swiftly, dramatically impacting the geopolitics of the region and beyond. Israel is in a heightened mode of alert as the political and security environment of the region undergoes a rapid overhaul. This article looks at the significance of the Iran-Syria-Russia nexus in the Middle East.

Analysis

Iran stunned Israel yesterday by signing a naval cooperation pact with Syria, to build a Mediterranean naval base at a Syrian port. The announcement comes shortly after the widely publicized trip of two Iranian ships through the Suez Canal, for the Syrian port of Latakia. Egyptian military allowed the Iranian ships to pass through Suez Canal, after disallowing such a move for 30 years. The developed has been taken seriously by Israel, especially as it has occurred soon after Hosni Mubarrak was forced to resign under mounting civil unrest in Egypt. Israel is closely monitoring the poltical and security situation of Egypt, for any sign of change in its policies.

This Iran-Syria pact came to surface after a recent announcement of a contract by the Russians, which allows the sale of advanced shore-to-sea cruise missiles to Syria. These missiles can travel underwater undetected and have a range of 300 kilometers. This step is in addition to a naval base, Russian’s are building at the Syrian port of Tartous. Israeli analysts are predicting that Iran-Syria-Russia cooperation is meant to counter US sixth fleet in the eastern Mediterranean.

PoliTact has maintained that these moves by the Russians, including the recent transit agreement with US to allow supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, represent leverages to be used in its relations with US. These are bargaining chips for Russia to prevent NATO from interfering in Russia’s Near Abroad. Additionally, to avoid any adverse outcome for Russia as it relates to the positioning of the American Ballistic Missile Defense System in Eastern Europe. Besides, the reset in US-Russian relations has been working reasonably well, consider the New START treaty ratification.

The dynamics of US-Russia rivalry serves Israeli security interests in the region in two key ways: first by preventing any regional alliance to develop against it, and secondly by promoting American military presence in the region.

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