Alwaght – The senior advisor to Iran’s leader Ali Akbar Velayati visited Russia on Thursday, carrying messages from the Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei and President Hasan Rouhani to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The trip is viewed as a viable move taken by Tehran to foil a US President Donald Trump’s plan to take the Russians to his side as he steps up pressures against the Islamic Republic.
Over the past two months, the American leader has been taking pains to exert maximum pressure on the Europeans in a bid to form an anti-Iranian alliance. He also aims to lure Kremlin into coming on board.
Trump’s plan is to press Iran heavily for the final aim of forcing Tehran into accepting what Iran calls unacceptable conditions for sitting on the negotiating table. Many analysts argue that Trump’s conditions are more allusions than reality, stemming from his inexperience and a failure to develop a good understanding of Iran’s society.
Velayati trip’s achievements may very well be a big loss to Trump on the threshold of the president’s meeting with Putin on Monday in Helsinki, Finland. The visit made it clear that Iran-Russia bonds are stronger than Trump’s naïve belief that he can put strains on Tehran using Moscow’s clout. There is more than one reason to claim that Trump’s anti-Iranian diplomatic push failed before fully materializing and that he will leave Helsinki empty-handed.
Trump’s unsuccessful anti-Iranian push
The outcomes of Iranian envoy’s negotiations with the Russians underscore the fact that Trump efforts will go nowhere. Velayati answered questions about the level of Iran-Russia relations.
“For a long time, the Leader has been valuing improving ties with Russia as a strategic partner. Iran’s policy is operating under the supervision and advice of the Leader. Mr Putin has the same view. The two countries share many commonalities and as the times goes, they grow stronger,” Velayati was quoted as saying.
He continued that the Russian leader showed him the course of development of bilateral relations in figures.
“In the first four months of 2018, the bilateral trade grew 36 percent. Also, a leading oil company of Russia signed a contract with Iran’s oil ministry worth of $4 billion. They will start operations soon. Additionally, two Russian oil giants are negotiating to start projects in Iran’s energy sector reaching $10 billion. Mr Putin’s emphasis is on touching $50 billion worth of oil industry cooperation. This means that Russia is ready to invest $50 billion in Iran’s oil and gas fields. This is a huge deal and the Russians can fill the place of the Western companies abandoning Iran projects,” he went on.
While in Russia, the Iranian official responded to recent Trump comments in which he said Iran will accede to negotiations with Washington at the end of the road, saying Iran will not yield to pressures. Addressing Valdai Discussion Club, Velayati said Iran is not interested in talking to the US.
“The US is untrustworthy. Why should we bother talking to it once again. The US push to stop Iran’s oil sales will push up the oil prices and harm the major consumers’ economies.”
He said that despite the upcoming embargo, Tehran does not see any non-removable obstacles ahead of selling its oil.
“We will sell our oil even under the sanctions. If we cannot sell oil, others cannot either.”
On the other side, he addressed the presence in Syria, maintaining Iran will stay in Syria. Announcing Iran’s stay in Syria from Moscow is seen by the experts as marking the success of his Russia visit and meeting with Putin.
“Iran will continue the presence in Syria. We believe that if Iran leaves this country and then Russia follows suit, the same terrorists will return.”
He pointed to uninvited US military deployment to Syria, saying Iran will not pull out of Syria under the US threats. “We will exit only if the Syrian officials ask us to. Only if the Syrian leaders tell us they no longer need Iran’s advisory assistance,” he asserted.
Such remarks reflect that an agreement is reached between Tehran and Moscow. Trump policy is receiving a new blow, beside the older ones. Over the past months, the EU, China, and even India voiced opposition to the US unilateral move of withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal. Now the Russians are brazenly coming against Trump.
Why opposing Trump?
The Russian officials’ stances over the past few months, as well as their promises of expanding ties with Tehran, leave no doubt that they will never help Trump’s anti-Tehran agenda. A set of reasons make Moscow follow this political path: First, The Russian top strategic priority is to check the increasing US-led Western influence in the areas of Moscow sway. The Russian leaders are severely concerned about the destruction of the balance of power on their borders. This drives Putin’s rejection of Trump demands. After all, the Russian leader knows that once he shows a green light to US agenda, he should expect tipping scales of power to Russia’s detriment in West Asia region and this will allow the West to broaden its toehold regionally. So, Russia will never put all of its eggs in one basket and set hopes on Trump’s promises. Moscow knows well that it cannot forsake ties with such trustable partners as Tehran.
Second, the West Asian developments over the past few years raise Iran as a crucial partner for Russia to confront the Western influence in the region. Moscow is well aware of Iran’s key role in checking terrorism which serves as an instrument for the Western foothold gain. This is what the Russians find in accordance with their strategic interests. A Trump demand of Putin to dismantle his Syria-centered alliance in the region, many analysts insist, remains a pipe dream. The Iran-Russia joint mobilization of forces in the Syrian battlegrounds is a product of years of coordination.
And third, the years of collaboration in the Syrian crisis have shaped a consistency of Iran-led Axis of Resistance-Moscow interests, not simply tactically but strategically. Interwoven interests mean that any victory for the Resistance camp is a victory for Moscow. In such a situation of tightly-linked Iran-Russia interests, the political logic guides the Russian leader to oppose Trump’s Iran antipathy, a stance that will leave Helsinki summit’s Iran pressures frustrated.