‘Rivals of the West in their own right, Iran and Russia today are major power players in the Syrian imbroglio. Their convergence of interests in helping eradicate extremist terrorist proxies utilized by an array of rival states against their mutual Syrian ally has allowed them both a significant degree of say in Syrian affairs and how that country’s future will pan out
However, their cooperation against the terrorist threat has often been the pivot of inaccurate portrayals of Russia-Iran ties and the extent of their shared interests versus their many highly divergent objectives in Syria, many of which are rooted in events and policies predating the beginning of the war there in 2011. With a proper look at ground realities in Syria and the overall shifting alignments of foreign actors involved there, the profoundly divergent intentions and views of Russia and Iran regarding that country’s reconstruction phase and its future become readily divergent.
One flashpoint of this brewing diplomatic conflict is Syria’s Latakia Port. Explored in the first installment of this series, the port was leased by Iran in a move that Russia feels directly threatens its military and economic dominance over Syria. Russia has its own military presence in Latakia, home to the Russian-controlled Hmeim Airbase and the Russian-operated Tartus Port. To complicate the matter further, Baniyas Port, located between Latakia and Tartus, is also being strategically used by Iran.’