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BEIRUT, Lebanon – While Russia seeks to work out an orderly transition in Syria to help ensure its continued influence in the Levant and the entire eastern Mediterranean region, it also is looking to fallback positions to maintain its continued relevance, according to a report in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
That could include a tie-up with Iran.
Analysts believe that if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to fall, Russian, which has been a close ally to Assad, may reconsider its denial of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.
Russia previously had decided not to honor a contract for such sales out of concern it would violate some of the few U.N. Security Council sanctions to which it had agreed against Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear energy development.
The West sought the U.N. sanctions out of concern that Iran's nuclear enrichment program is a cover to develop nuclear weapons, although Iran insists its program is for peaceful development. Iran also is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors nuclear programs of its signatories.
Iran now is concerned that Israel, the U.S., or both, may decide to launch military action against its nuclear sites, since repeated discussions and diplomacy have just about run their course.
Meanwhile, Russia has vetoed all Security Council resolutions that call for harsher sanctions against Iran and undoubtedly would oppose any effort to call for military action.
This then would leave Israel and the U.S. to decide to take action on their own with a nodding but not formal approval from other Western countries as well as the Arab countries that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The GCC members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All being Sunni, these countries are very concerned about Shiite Iran's growing influence in the Middle East region, which is why some – particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar – are providing financial support and weapons to the Syrian opposition seeking to oust Assad, a Shiite Alawite, due to his alliance with Iran.
If Assad were to fall, there are increasing indications that Moscow would supply the S-300s to Iran.
"If the Syrian regime is changed by force, or if Russia doesn't like the outcome, it most likely will respond by selling the S-300s to Iran," said Rusian Pukhov, director of the think-tank Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow. He's also on the Defense Ministry advisory board.
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