The Russo-Iranian Partnership Poses a Global Threat

Iran’s provision of drones and military advisers to Russia has called international attention to an alliance that has been evident to those paying attention to the Middle East for at least a decade. While putative experts have tended to express doubts about the depth of Tehran-Moscow ties, citing centuries of conflict between tsarist and Persian imperial ambitions, Oved Lobel points out that these ties began with the Islamic Republic’s inception. Nor are they limited to the Middle East: Lobel identifies cooperation between the Kremlin and the mullahs as stretching from Latin America to Africa to Myanmar.

The relationship between Iran and Russia is neither recent nor transactional. This entirely ideological alliance began before the collapse of the Soviet Union, particularly with the division of Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, and it is strange that until this year, the conventional wisdom continued to stress tensions and differences rather than partnership.

The first Russian move following the collapse of the USSR was the massive sale of arms to Iran, despite severe U.S. pressure and a secret mid-1995 pact between then-Vice-President Al Gore and Russian’s then-Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to cut off such sales to Iran by 1999 in exchange for not being sanctioned. In 2007, Iran and Russia signed a deal for the S-300 air-defense system, which was ultimately delivered to Iran in 2016.

During the second intifada, it was via Moscow that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a former Soviet proxy, was able to meet with and secure help from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), ultimately resulting in the Karine A affair, in which a massive arms shipment to Palestinian terrorists was intercepted by Israel. Russia continues to maintain ties with all Palestinian terrorist groups, including IRGC clients and proxies like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Read more at Fresh Air

More about: Iran, Latin America, Middle East, Palestinian terror, Russia

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy