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Iran Opens The Door For Russia To Challenge Washington

Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Iran’s foreign minister reopened the door to Russian use of Iranian airbases to carry out strikes in Syria, in another sign of increasing cooperation between the two countries.

Russia carried some airstrikes on Syria from an Iranian airbase in August, but was later rebuked by Iranian authorities for bragging about it. After Russian state media trumpeted the strike as a major strategic coup, Iran’s minister of defense accused them of a “betrayal of trust” publicly. He declared at the time, “it is finished, for now.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif signaled that this time-out may be over saying “Russia doesn’t have a military base (in Iran), we have good cooperation, and on a case by case basis, when it is necessary for Russians fighting terrorism to use Iranian facilities, we will make a decision.”

Russia and Iran’s increasing alliance will serve as a challenge to the Trump administration’s plan to shore up U.S. allies in the middle east. The use of the base is particularly significant because no foreign power, other than Russia, has based forces in Iran since World War 2. Zarif’s announcement also came during an Iranian government visit to Moscow, focused on Syria.

Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, are spearheading a peace effort for the Syrian civil war. These negotiations exclude the U.S. and its Gulf Arab allies, who also have significant interests in Syria. The peace talks are likely part of a broader Russian attempt to asserts itself geopolitically, and appear a peer competitor to the U.S.

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