Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Putin in Tehran

Putin in Tehran

by Stephen Lendman

On Monday, Putin attended the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) summit in Tehran - an important visit showing bilateral cooperation on major geopolitical issues between both countries, notably the Syria conflict.

He met with Iranian leaders on the sidelines of the conference, his main reason for attending, including President Hassan Rohani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The Americans have a long-term plot and are trying to dominate Syria and then the whole region,” Khamenei stressed. “This is a threat to all countries, especially Russia and Iran.” 

“The United States is now trying to achieve its failed military objectives in Syria by political means” - at the same escalating airstrikes against Syrian infrastructure and other government targets, not ISIS as claimed.

Fars News reported seven Memoranda of Understanding agreements concluded between both countries - Iranian and Russian foreign ministers (Mohammad Javad Zarif and Sergey Lavrov respectively) signing them in the presence of Rohani and Putin.

They “relate to the health, railway, banking, insurance, electricity, power plant, water and energy sectors,” Fars News explained.

Earlier in November, Iranian and Russian officials met in Moscow, discussing increased economic cooperation between both countries, including establishing a joint bank and bilateral trade in their national currencies, bypassing the US dollar.

In Moscow, Iranian ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanayee, said both “countries are serious about implementing an economic memorandum of understanding…amount(ing) to $70 billion” in bilateral trade.

In August 2014, a major economic, trade and energy agreement was signed, a step toward increasing commerce between both countries.

In March, an agreement was concluded on having central banks of both countries supervise financial operations of both nations’ banks. 

Other agreements were concluded earlier this year, expanding economic, financial and political relations between both countries.

Putin signed a decree lifting restrictions on enriched uranium imports from Iran. Tass said the agreement effectively “cancels all previous restrictions imposed on cooperation with Iran in nuclear energy and gives a go-ahead to the development of cooperation with Iran in the nuclear field, in particular, in the area of enriched uranium imports from Iran, including equipment supplies.”

Activities between both countries will comply fully with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he held detained discussions with Khamenei, lasting over 90 minutes, more than planned. “The conversation was quite positive,” Peskov explained.” 

“The leaders exchanged views on the current state of bilateral relations, including in the trade and economic cooperation as they noted presence of a big number of particular projects in the energy sector and other fields on agenda.”

Talks “mostly focused on crisis situations in the whole region, first of all the situation in Syria was discussed. A highly detailed exchange of view was in place, and unanimity of views of Moscow and Tehran was stressed regarding unacceptability of dictation of options of political settlement from outside, and lack of options to implement this political tool by the Syrian people” themselves.

Meeting with Iranian President Rohani, Putin praised Iran’s regional anti-terrorism efforts, stressing Tehran’s cooperation aided Russia’s successful air campaign in Syria.

It involves coordinating Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi anti-terrorist efforts. Rohani stressed both countries agreed to pursue their joint efforts against a common scourge, as well as further develop “cooperation on regional issues, (notably) the fight against terrorism” vital to defeat.

“Terrorism today is a formidable challenge for the region and for the whole world,” Rohani stressed. “Whereas some countries are only indulging in anti-terrorist oratory and taking demonstrative actions, our two countries have proved that this issue can be addressed seriously.”

Putin praised courageous Russian pilots, calling their actions “quite positive,” adding:

“With regard to the actions of our military, it is a complex operation - involving a large space grouping, diverse air forces: attack aircraft, bombers, strategic missile bombers and fighters jets covering them.”

He again stressed the importance of resolving Syria’s conflict politically - aside from continuing to wage war against the scourge of terrorism, Western-sponsored he understands well but diplomatically stopped short of explaining.

Russia considers Iran a “reliable ally in the region and the world,” Putin stressed, an important statement in contrast to longstanding US hostility, even after consummating the nuclear deal.

“Unlike certain parties (leaving no doubt he meant Washington), we are committed to never stab our partners in the back or take any behind-the-stage move against our friends and to resolve any differences that may arise through dialogue.”

A Final Comment

On Tuesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported: “Today, as most likely a result of a strike from the ground, an Su-24 plane from the Russian aviation group in the Syrian Arab Republic crashed in the territory of Syria” - Russia’s first downed aircraft since beginning aerial operations on September 30.

“The plane was located at an altitude of 6,000 meters (approximately 19,600 feet),” Russia’s Defense Ministry explained. “The fate of the pilots is being determined. According to the preliminary data, the pilots were able to eject.” 

“The circumstances of the plane's crash are under investigation. The Russian Ministry of Defense notes that during the flight the plane stayed strictly within Syrian airspace and the flight was logged.”

Responsibility for downing the aircraft remains to be determined. Whether ISIS was supplied with surface-to-air capability at this altitude is unclear, something it didn’t previously have.

Washington supplied shoulder-launched, man-portable, surface-to-air missiles (SAMS) defense systems (Manpads) - effective against low-flying aircraft, mainly helicopters, along with fixed-wing planes during takeoffs, landings and at low altitudes.

If Washington, Turkey or another anti-Assad nation is determined to be responsible for the incident, expect an appropriate Russian response.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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