The Tehran Talks: What Russia, Iran & Turkiye Agreed
The Presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkiyie have met in Tehran to discuss the Syria peace process, however bilateral talks also took place which impact the energy and food crisis’s, as well as discussions concerning Ukraine. This is what happened:
Russian President Putin stated that in Syria, it is necessary to eradicate ISIS and other terrorist groups, noting that some of these were covertly financed by “the destructive role of Western countries, led by the United States, which in every possible way encourage separatist aspirations in certain regions of the republic and actually rob the Syrian people.”
Syria isn’t a significant energy producing country, but it is strategically important – crating trouble in the region causes difficulties for Russian and Iranian oil and gas supply chains to be fed throughout the Middle east and to compete with the United States over EU supplies.
Putin stated that the main concern in Syria is primarily the situation in the territories that are not under the control of Damascus. “We see those real threats of crime, extremism, separatism come from these regions. This is largely facilitated by the destructive line of Western states led by the United States, which use a wide arsenal of means of political and economic influence, in every possible way encourage separatist aspirations in certain regions of the country, as the President of Iran has indicated, plundering Syria’s natural resources in order to ultimately bring the matter to the dismemberment of the Syrian state.”
Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke about the terrorism issue, however, has traditionally focused on the threat that, according to him, comes from Kurdish rebels. The solution may be for Syria to cede to Turkiye part of its northern territories – however Russia is resisting this as the land would bisect potential Russian gas and oil pipelines. It is a strategic issue that continues to divide Russian and Turkish opinions, and without which, Syrian reconstruction will be hard to manage. China is also waiting in the wings to provide infrastructure redevelopment and would be prepared to finance the hundreds of billions of dollars needed against mortgages from Syrian oil.
Food Supplies & Security
Putin and Erdogan discussed the issue of supplying Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, with both parties expressing satisfaction with the negotiations. An issue here is security, Turkiye wants the right to examine ships to ensure they are not being used to smuggle weapons from Ukraine. All parties have a mutual interest in this regard.
Putin stated to Erdogan that “I want to thank you for your mediation efforts, for providing a Turkish platform for negotiations on food issues, on the problems of exporting grain through the Black Sea. With your mediation, we have moved forward. True, not all issues have yet been resolved, but the fact that there is a movement is already good.” While Erdogan said “During the recent Istanbul negotiations on grain, the position taken by the Russian side was very positive and constructive.”
Turkiye can become a security guarantor for the transportation of energy resources and grain from Ukraine to the Levant and resolve the issue of Ukraine reselling weapons to terrorist organisations within the region – an issue noted when a Ukrainian military plane crashed in Greece last week bound for Jordan and Bangladesh, packed with weapons and explosives. Putin also spoke about the causes of the energy crisis in Europe and about a possible meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart. Russia has continued to state that a solution will be on Moscow’s terms, and not on Kiev’s.
It is precisely these conversations that have attracted the main attention of Western media, some of which have showcased Putin as being belittled at the event, although the meetings content is rather more serious, and is connected with the conflict in Ukraine.
A few days before the meeting in Tehran, US National Security Assistant Jake Sullivan, for example, announced Iran’s readiness to sell several hundred military drones to Russia, and is interested in buying 300 Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 devices. However, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said that Putin did not discuss the issue of deliveries of drones either with Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, or with the supreme leader of the republic, Ali Khamenei.
However, cooperation between Russia Federation and Iran is not limited only to the military agenda. In the current realities, economic cooperation between the two states is no less important. Putin stated that in terms of Russian-Iranian trade, “Our relations are really developing at a good pace. We can boast of record figures in terms of trade growth (in 2021 it grew by 81.7% compared to 2020)
For example, the Russian government has recently expressed interest in cooperation with Tehran in the automotive components industry. Interaction with Iran while both countries are under sanctions will reduce their influence. Significant oil and gas reserves in Russia and Iran allow both, under various bilateral agreements, to play an important role in the energy market.
Russia and Iran collectively have the world’s third largest oil reserves after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, and the world’s second largest gas reserves after the United States. Clearly, they are significant players.
Turkiye’s gas pipeline network is becoming important for gas supplies to Europe and would develop this further should the Syria issue settle down. Moscow, in turn, is interested in expanding trade relations with Ankara in the field of high-tech and pharmaceutical products, light and food industry goods.
Iran Nuclear Deal
The Russian-Iranian talks are also important from the point of view of the future of the Iranian nuclear deal, the revival of which is now being worked out. The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran, again to enforce regime change, under the guise of preventing Iran from having nuclear energy and talking up the use of Iranian nuclear weapons against Israel. Iran says it needs nuclear power to develop its industrial base – and use as a product to sell to other energy-deficient markets such as neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan.
At the end of the summit, a joint statement was adopted, in which all three countries reaffirmed their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and their intention to continue cooperation to resolve the Syrian problem. The summit held in Tehran was needed by all parties, since the leaders need to constantly synchronize their activities regarding the situation in the country.
At present, the situation in Syria is relatively stable, compared with the beginning of 2020, when clashes took place in Idlib. The tripartite format Moscow-Tehran-Ankara has been working for five years and is bringing results, although geopolitical contradictions between the countries on the Syrian issue and the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh remain. However, the parties are set for dialogue, and not for reading “lectures” to each other and issuing ultimatums, which makes for some progress in understanding and resolving issues not just related to Syria but extending into the Levant and Middle east.
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