How does Russia benefit from the Iran-US conflict?

Right before Iran launched a missile attack on US troops based in Iraq, President Vladimir Putin flew to Syria to meet his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad and discuss the ever-growing Iran-US conflict. Russia has already shown its disapproval of the US airstrikes that killed the Iranian Major-Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Therefore, it is fair to assume that Russia will try to turn the situation to its advantage and thrive both economically and politically-wise.

The tension between Washington and Tehran emerged since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict and especially after Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. Meanwhile, the relationships between Russia and Iran got stronger than ever through military cooperation in Syria. It is noticeable now that the Russian government is trying to expand its influence over this region and improve its reputation there.

Russia was the one that helped the Assad regime to be settled in Syria despite the demand of the US and NATO allies for Assad to leave. After four years of tight cooperation with Syria, Russia managed to build a reputation of a valuable foreign backer, draw Turkey away from its NATO allies, and, as a result, emerged as a kingmaker at the expense of the United States.

Poor political decisions made by the US, including abandoning Kurdish partners in Syria, helped Russia to improve its position in this area. Iraq’s government was not happy about the recent behavior of the United States and the Iraqi prime minister even proclaimed it to be a “flagrant violation of the conditions authorizing the presence of US troops.” Therefore, it is pretty likely that Iraq will soon expel the US troops from the territory of the country, which, in turn, will make it hard for the United States to sustain its presence in Syria. That would create more space for Moscow to enhance its influence over the region and its position as a regional power broker.

Moreover, the situation plays in favor of Russia in a way that Moscow was already trying to drive a wedge between Washington and its partners to build up a perception of the United States as belligerent and volatile.

At the same time, the latest decisions and acts by the United States have already frustrated its European allies, especially the withdrawal from the nuclear deal. According to many reports, the Trump administration did not even inform the UK and other allies about the upcoming strikes on Soleimani. If the US government continues keeping its allies ‘blind’, it can end up being isolated on the world stage.

By Natalia Revishvili,

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