Russia and Iran Are United in Opposing American Power

Jan. 24 2022

Many foreign-policy analysts consider Russo-Iranian cooperation to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad an anomaly, a temporary and tactical alliance of convenience between two historic rivals. Not so, argues Oved Lobel, citing decades of coordination between Tehran and Moscow, and a shared overarching interest in opposing America across the globe.

[T]he Islamist regime has maintained a deep warmth for Russia, especially after 1988. Mikhail Gorbachev was the only foreign leader ever to receive a personal letter from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (in 1989) urging him to consider Islam an alternative given the imminent collapse of Communism. This bond has extended to the relationship between Khomeini’s successor, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Following the sudden rise of the Taliban, Russia and Iran allied against it and backed the Northern Alliance under Ahmad Shah Massoud. But, following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the two countries collaborated on supporting the Taliban, whose then-emir was killed leaving Iran in 2016 after a meeting with Russian leaders.

The clearest demonstration of the Russo-Iranian alliance was their joint intervention in Syria to preserve Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but their anti-U.S. alliance spans the globe. For instance, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) sought Iranian support during the “al-Aqsa Intifada,” it went to Moscow to connect with the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), resulting in the 2002 Karine A affair during which the Palestinian Authority tried to smuggle 50 tons of Iranian-supplied weapons into Gaza in flagrant violation of the Oslo Accords.

Russia continues to provide the diplomatic and often military heft and cover to the export of the Islamic Revolution, from Yemen to Syria to Lebanon to the Palestinian-controlled territories. In the 2000s, it helped supply and upgrade Hizballah’s arsenal via Syria, a relationship that has only grown militarily and politically. Russia has also upgraded its relationship with the Islamic Revolution’s proxy in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Iran, Palestinian terror, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship