August 30, The Iran Project – For the first time since the Islamic Revolution, warplanes of a foreign country, Russia, used Iran’s airbase for military operation. Although according to the Russian political and military officials, now there is no military aircraft in Iranian air bases but they might use them again.
Russian fighters are not Iran’s first guest
This is not the first time a foreign country’s warplanes enter Iran. During Operation Desert Storm, many Iraqi warplanes entered Iran to be safe from the US air attacks. Of course they did not coordinate with the Islamic Republic, and Iran also did not return the jets and used them to equip its war-weakened air force.
For the second time, foreign fighters entered Iran during the 2003 invasion of Iraq (dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States). At that time, since the cities in southern Iran were near the Iraqi cities which were attacked by the fighters of anti-terrorism coalition, the planes were unintentionally entered the Khorramshahr and Abadan’s airspace but they never landed on Iranian soil.
According to some news reports, US warplanes also dropped in Iran during the invasion of Afghanistan and were delivered to the US but the Islamic Republic never confirmed the news.
Russia has already passed Iran’s airspace as a guest or for attending air shows. Some other friend countries might be allowed to pass Iran’s airspace but they were escorted by Iranian F-14 fighter jets and did not stop there.
Russia was Iran’s guest
But this time, the presence of Russian’s military jets in an Iranian base is significantly different form before because the Russian fighters used Iranian airfield at Tehran’s invitation.
US is uncomfortable with Moscow’s use of Iran’s Nojeh air base near the western city of Hamedan since it was built before the Islamic Revolution of Iran to host possible attacks of America and NATO on the Soviet Union but it was never used for that purpose and instead, now the fighters designed during the Cold War are using the base.
Iran commits airbase, Iraq commits airspace
Russian fighters used an air base in central Iran mainly because it was near the regions where military operations took place in Aleppo. Russian bombers can fly from the Russian soil and go back there but staging air power from Iran shortens flight distance, enabling Russian warplanes to carry more bombs.
Military attacks on Takfiri terrorists launch form Iran but Russia was not able to start its attacks without the permission of the Iraqi government to cross the boundaries of the country. In fact, Iran and Iraq coordination made the Russian attacks form the Iranian airbase effective.
The capacity and operational capability of Syria’s airports are completed
Russia has already had a military presence in Syria and most of its air operations conducted from this country. But for some reasons, Iran and other neighboring countries of Syria have been considered to help Russia’s military operations in Syria.
Firstly, operational capability of Syria’s bases is almost completed. According to Russian military officials, up to 15 flights are performed at the same time from Hmeimim airbase so it is not possible to control more flights unless the base is developed.
Secondly, some heavy fighters, like Tu-22, are not suitable for deployment to places such as Hmeimim air base, thanks to the airfield’s small size and lack of capacity to handle large aircraft, while Iran’s Nojeh airbase is large enough for these fighters.
Thirdly, information leakage made Russian planes to use Iran’s base because as soon as they take off from Russian bases, the terrorists are able to monitor them but in Iran the flights are safe enough and the terrorist cannot control them.
US is seriously angry
Although the United States has not seriously reacted to Russia’s use of Iranian airbases but there are many signs that American authorities are really angry. Russia’s use of the bases that were primarily built to attack on itself, again humiliated America 37 years after the Islamic Revolution victory.
On the other hand, Russian’s using Iranian bases further strengthens Axis of Resistance and undermines America’s Arabic states allies. Also, considering Turkey’s invitation of Russia to use the Incirlik air base raises serious alarm bells for the US. However, America has many bases around Iran and Russia to control the two countries.
Public opinion in Iran is not justified
One of the most important issues that was not respected in Iran-Russia bilateral treaty for Russia’s use of Iranian airbases was proper justification of Iranian public opinion. News and photos of Russian aircraft deployment in Iran’s Nojeh base originally released by Western media’s biased coverage which led some Iranian MPs reaction.
Of course, Iran Defense Minister’s reaction was not reflected properly and some Iranian lawmakers criticized Russia using the Hamadan base, saying the deployment of any foreign military forces inside the country was unconstitutional.
Yet, Iranian lawyers have noted that the temporary use of a foreign country from Iran bases does not conflict with the constitution and can be done within the framework of defense treaties.
It seems that since Russians were originally supposed to use Iran bases temporarily, Iranian military officials felt no need to inform either officials or the Iranian people but when the news publicized by the Western media, Iran and Russia’s officials had to release the issue.
At this point, Russia stopped using Iran airbases for Syria strikes and Iranians public opinion seems ready for Russians widespread use of Iran’s full military capacity.
It is worth mentioning that Russians may return to Iran later this year as both sides officials announced.