Russia and Iran have been working together to save the bloody regime of Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad. In the insidious process, they also have been frustrating the Obama administration’s hopes for a negotiated settlement and overdue relief for Syria’s battered population.
But that unholy alliance stumbled Tuesday when Iran kicked Russian aircraft off of a base they had been using in attacking Col. Assad’s enemies in Syria.
And while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been repeatedly foiled in his peacemaking efforts in Syria, the new rift between Russia and Iran holds at least some promise for the dissolution of their united effort to prolong the Assad government’s brutal reign.
It turns out that the Russians were too indiscreet for the secretive Iranians, who have perfected the practice of concealing their warlike activities.
Instead of keeping mum about the use of an Iranian air base, Russian officials broadcast it to the world as a triumphant diplomatic breakthrough. It was the first time that foreign military operations had been launched from Iran’s soil in more than 37 years, dating to the Islamic revolution.
But that boast, it appears, was too much for the Iranian Parliament. Iran’s constitution bans the foreign use of the nation’s military bases.
Speaker Ari Larijani, who might be the second most powerful politician in Iran after “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly upbraided Defense Minister Gen. Hussein Dehghan for not “speaking properly” when the general said Russia’s use of the base was of no concern to the Parliament.
Gen. Dehghan, in turn, berated the Russians for bragging about their use of the Iranian base.
He said, according to the BBC:
“The Russians are interested to show they are a superpower to guarantee their share in the political future of Syria and, of course, there has been a kind of show-off.”
The upshot of this political embarrassment for the Iranian military was the announcement Tuesday by Iran’s foreign ministry that the operation was “over for now.”
Russian spokesmen acknowledged that the long-range bombers and fighter escort aircraft using the Iranian base have returned to Russia.
However, Russia did again launch air strikes last week against Col. Assad’s opponents — including some being assisted by U.S. and British special forces.
That leaves the massive scale of the Syrian tragedy still unchecked — and America’s half-measures to counter it as yet unsuccessful.