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Why Russia and China Build Up Iran
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech in the Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque in downtown Tehran on January 3, 2022. (Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech in the Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque in downtown Tehran on January 3, 2022. (Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Why Russia and China Build Up Iran

Bryan Clark & Michael Doran

The Ukraine crisis exposes a flaw in President Biden’s Iran strategy. Washington engages with Beijing and Moscow as if they share core U.S. interests with respect to Iran, when instead they are working with Tehran to undermine the American-led global order.

That’s certainly what officials in Tehran are saying. Last Wednesday, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh-Meshkini, a spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said : “In the new world order, a triangle consisting of three powers—Iran, Russia, and China—has formed.” He was clear about the goal: “This new arrangement heralds the end of the inequitable hegemony of the United States and the West.”

The Biden team isn’t listening. Last Friday Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who proposed an interim deal to break the deadlock in the Iranian nuclear negotiations. “Russia shares our sense of urgency,” Mr. Blinken said, “and we hope that Russia will use the influence . . . it has with Iran to impress upon Iran that sense of urgency.”

As Mr. Blinken spoke, Russia was holding joint naval drills with China and Iran in the Indian Ocean. The day before, President Vladimir Putin hosted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow. In a speech before the Duma, Mr. Raisi discussed “Resistance”—the movement Iran leads to destroy the U.S.-led order in the Middle East. Resistance, he said, drove the Americans from Afghanistan and Iraq, and it also generated “the successful model of cooperation between Iran and Russia in Syria.” In that spirit, Mr. Raisi parroted Mr. Putin’s main grievance with respect to Ukraine. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Mr. Raisi said, “seeks to infiltrate various geographical areas with new alibis that threaten the common interests of independent states.”

Mr. Putin’s campaign to bring Ukraine under Moscow’s control has a direct connection to the joint Russian-Iranian project of propping up the Assad regime in Syria. Russia’s naval bases in Sevastopol, Crimea (which Mr. Putin annexed from Ukraine in 2014), and in Tartus, Syria, serve as operational hubs for Russia’s Mediterranean presence. A strong, independent Ukraine threatens Moscow’s ability to project power into the Middle East.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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