Taking Stock: Five Years of Russia’s Intervention in Syria
Tensions between Russia and Iran increase in Syria
As the fighting subsides, Moscow and Tehran battle for influence in a war-torn country
WASHINGTON – Russian military police raided Iran-backed militias at Syrian Aleppo International Airport last week, local media reported..
As a result, several Iranian militia leaders were arrested.
The situation can be regarded as another episode of tension between Iranian and Russian forces in Syria..
“There is definitely tension between Russia and Iran in Syria,” said Philip Smith, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who closely monitors Iranian-backed militias in Syria..
“You can see how things like this (the raid in Aleppo) are happening in the hotbeds of tension due to the criminal activity that is taking place there. The protégés of each country are trying to fight it, “he told the Voice of America..
Similar incidents have occurred across the country in the past two years.
Local sources report that two Syrian military units recently engaged in bloody clashes in different parts of the country..
According to observers, the ongoing power struggle is caused by disagreements between the Syrian military leaders, some of whom are loyal to Russia, and others to Iran..
“I think it all comes down to who controls what and what piece of the pie they all get. But it seems to me that this should not necessarily lead to serious clashes between Iranian and Russian forces, ”says Smith..
According to some experts, the strategic partnership between Russia and Iran in Syria is higher than such differences, especially since Russia continues to rely on Iranian forces to hold territory and supply personnel for the troops of the Syrian regime..
“I will never believe that Russia will secede from Iran,” says Anna Borshchevskaya, a fellow at the European Endowment for Democracy, who studies Russian policy in the Middle East..
“The differences they have are related to attempts to delimit spheres of influence in Syria, which Russia understands very well,” she said in a telephone interview. "Voice of America". – Their relationship is definitely complicated. But they are united by anti-Americanism and a desire to reduce American influence in the region “.
Some analysts believe that, unlike when they entered the war in Syria, Russian and Iranian troops now control large areas and both countries are trying to find economic opportunities in Syria..
“There has never been as much friction between the two countries as it is now,” says Jovan Hemo, a Syrian economist who studies the economic structure of war..
Both countries want to monopolize Syria economically over the long term, because they made significant loans to the Syrian regime throughout the war, Hemo told Voice of America..
“I believe that this kind of competition in Syria will continue, but eventually Russia’s economic dominance will prevail,” he added..