Friday, August 19, 2016
Power Vacuum Brings Military Alliance Between Iran & Russia
The Price of Powerlessness - Charles Krauthammer
Iran's intensely nationalistic revolutionary regime had never permitted foreign forces to operate from its soil. Until now. This week Russian bombers flew out of Iranian air bases to attack rebel positions in Syria. The reordering of the Middle East is proceeding apace. Where for 40 years the U.S.-Egypt alliance anchored the region, a Russia-Iran condominium is now dictating events.
That's what results from the nuclear deal with Iran. The nuclear deal was supposed to begin a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Instead, it has solidified a strategic-military alliance between Moscow and Tehran.
Who Should Rule Syria? - Jonathan Spyer
Any real possibility of rebel victory in Syria ended with the entry of Russian forces last autumn, but the government's forces are also far from a decisive breakthrough. A victory for the Assad regime would be a disaster for the West.
Assad, an enthusiastic user of chemical weapons against his own people, is aligned with the most powerful anti-Western coalition in the Middle East - an alliance dominated by the Islamic Republic of Iran. If Assad won, the Iranian alliance would consolidate its domination of the entire land area between the Iraq-Iran border and the Mediterranean Sea - a major step towards regional hegemony for Iran.
At the same time, the Syrian rebellion today is dominated by Sunni Islamist forces. In the now extremely unlikely event of the Islamist rebels defeating the Assad regime and reuniting Syria under their rule, the country would become a Sunni Islamist dictatorship.
It is important to understand that "Syria" as a unitary state no longer exists. As a rebel commander told me in June: "Syria today is divided into four projects, none of which is strong enough to defeat all the others. These are the Assad regime, the rebellion, the Kurds and the Islamic State."
So the beginning of a coherent Syria policy requires understanding that the country has fragmented into enclaves, and is not going to be reunited in the near future.
The writer is Director of the Rubin Center (formerly the GLORIA Center), IDC Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
The Budding Alliance of Russia, Iran, and Turkey - Bret Stephens
In July 2015, Iran's Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani paid a visit to Moscow to propose a plan to save Bashar Assad's regime in Syria from collapse. Iran and Russia are not natural allies, but what tipped the scales in favor of a joint operation was a shared desire to humiliate the U.S. and kick it out of the Middle East.
Since then, Tehran has agreed to purchase $8 billion in top-shelf Russian weapons and is seeking Moscow's help to build another 10 nuclear reactors - useful reminders of how the mullahs are spending their sanctions-relief windfall.
All this is happening as the nuclear deal was supposed to be nudging Iran in a more pro-American direction.
Moscow and Ankara are also moving toward rapprochement and even a possible alliance. Turkish newspapers - all of them organs of the state - are whipping Turks into an anti-American frenzy with allegations that retired American generals were behind July's failed coup.
Erdogan is rapidly Iranianizing his regime on the Khomeini model. Turning the U.S. into a Great Satan is a necessary part of the process.
(Wall Street Journal)