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The Iran and Russia Alliance: How Will It Affect the Future?

In recent years, Iran and Russia have developed a deeper relationship. Iran, for instance, has supplied drones to Russia for use in its invasion of Ukraine, according to CNBC. As a result, it would be wise for leaders in the U.S. and European capitals to keep a closer eye on the relationship between Tehran and Moscow.

More Drones from Iran May Appear in Ukraine

Initially, Tehran did not acknowledge its decision to supply unmanned drones to Russia. According to The Guardian, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, admitted the use of Iranian drones in the Russian war effort, but claimed that Iran had only sent a small number of drones to Russia.

But the scope of the deal between Iran and Russia to supply drones for Ukraine is quite large and will become even bigger. Wall Street Journal reporters Dion Nisenbaum and Warren Strobel said that a Russian manufacturing facility is being planned and it will build 6,000 Iranian-designed drones for the war in Ukraine, according to intelligence sources. In addition, Nisenbaum and Strobel mentioned that these drones will use a new type of engine, making them much faster and more dangerous.

According to Nisenbaum and Strobel, Iranian officials have already toured the proposed site for the factory, which is a part of a growing military alliance between Moscow and Tehran. The Iranians might also supply Russia with ballistic missiles, and Russia is training Iranian pilots to fly Su-35s that will be sold to Iran to modernize its air force, says The Times of Israel.

Civil Unrest in Iran Has Declined

After several months of mass demonstrations against the Iranian regime, there have been several executions and thousands of young Iranians have been detained by the government. Clearly, the heavy hand of the regime’s forces have brought results by diminishing the scope of the demonstrations.

The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, a think tank dealing with issues in the Persian Gulf, published a report by one of its senior fellows, Ali Alfoneh. Alfoneh explained that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps played a sophisticated public relations game that proved effective.

He noted, “The regime, or the IRGC specifically, combined ruthlessness with pragmatism and remarkable ideological flexibility. As opposed to Khamenei, who in his comments on the protests blamed the United States, Israel, the outlawed Mujahedeen-e Khalq organization, separatists, the former crown prince of Iran, and even descendants of agents of Iran’s pre-revolution intelligence service, the IRGC used its political allies to blame the Headquarters for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice for provoking the protests. The IRGC’s scapegoating of the morality police may be an early sign of the organization parting ways with Iran’s unpopular clergy.”

[Related article: Iran Is Determined to Follow Its Own Path Despite Problems]

The Ruling Clerics in Iran Have Learned Nothing from Months of Protests

Reports from Iranian opposition forces and Western media suggest that in Tehran, the clerics learnt nothing from the months of massive protests by Iranian citizens. Iran International, an opposition news outlet, reported that the hardliners in Tehran reject calls from reformists such as former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Iran International quoted Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Iranian hardline daily Kayhan. According to an interview Shariatmadari did with the IRGC-linked Fars News Agency, he stated “Khatami’s statement was no different from the US, UK and Israeli positions in support of recent protests in Iran … Apart from cutting the throat of the police and attacks on the people in the streets, what have the rioters done that was different from what Khatami is suggesting?”

Western media has heard similar thoughts. NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly interviewed Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran, who made it clear that the regime takes no responsibility for the events of the past months.

Amir-Abdollahian also said that Tehran is not interested in returning to the nuclear deal and blames the U.S. for its failure. He stated, “In order to respond to wrong American behavior and within the framework of reciprocity, we leveled up our nuclear activities at home….However, when it comes to our beliefs and values, we do not pursue the making of a nuclear bomb.”

US and EU Reactions to the Activities of Iran and Russia

By siding with Russia and supplying weapons for the war in Ukraine, Iran has demonstrated that it is not looking for its relationship with the West to return to normal. As a result, the U.S. has retaliated by declaring sanctions against Iranian drone makers, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

In the press release, Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said, “Iranian entities continue to produce UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for Iran’s IRGC and military. More broadly, Iran is supplying UAVs for Russia’s combat operations to target critical infrastructure in Ukraine.”

The European Union imposed its own sanctions against Iran as well. According to The New York Times: “The European Union condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia on Monday as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against eight Iranian individuals and entities over their role in supplying drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure.”

Will the Situation with Iran and Russia Come to Military Force?

The realization that Iran and Russia are developing a closer relationship has become apparent to many world leaders, especially in the U.S. and Europe. There seems to be no one to talk to in Iran and 2023 might be the year when the West realizes there is no other option but force.

A nuclear Iran will endanger the Persian Gulf nations that are heavily involved in oil manufacturing. Now that there are sanctions against Russian oil according to the European Union, energy prices could skyrocket with catastrophic effects on the global economy. Tehran has been pushing boundaries for decades, and we are now approaching a point where other countries may need to be more actively involved in the situation.

Ilan Fuchs

Dr. Ilan Fuchs is a scholar of international law and legal history. He holds a B.A. in Humanities and Social Science from The Open University of Israel and an M.A. in Jewish history from Bar-Ilan University. Ilan’s other degrees include an LL.B., an LL.M. and a Ph.D. in Law from Bar-Ilan University. He is the author of “Jewish Women’s Torah Study: Orthodox Education and Modernity,” and 18 articles in leading scholarly journals. At the University, Ilan teaches courses on international law while maintaining a law practice in several jurisdictions.

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