Why Iran still doesn’t trust Russia on Syria

Although this new reported Russian pledge can at present meet the tactical objectives of Iran and Hezbollah, it cannot bridge the strategic gap between Russia’s military objectives and those of Iran when it comes to the Syrian war. The divergence between Tehran and Moscow’s geostrategic objectives in Syria, considering the price that each side needs to pay, is too wide for them to be able to reach a comprehensive and long-term agreement on collaboration.

Moscow’s biggest objective is to maintain a dependent government in Damascus and to keep access to port cities in the eastern Mediterranean for its naval fleet. Iran needs Syria and access to its southern regions to maintain its support for Lebanese Hezbollah. It is natural that if Russia achieves its goals, it would see no reason to maintain the status quo, and this is exactly what has concerned Iran ever since this game began.

Thus, it can be argued that Tehran has no choice but to rely on short-term tactical collaboration with its Russian ally in Syria. In the long term, however, it will be forced to either enter the Syrian war in full force or abandon its goals in Syria to some extent; this is now fueling the rise of a debate on which strategy is best between the Iranian factions for and against military intervention in Syria.

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