(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/04/Secretary_Kerry_Meets_with_Iranian_Foreign_Minister_Zarif.jpg)President Obama’s insistence on easing sanctions on the Islamic Republic and pushing for a controversial nuclear deal, which would allow Iranian leaders to maintain all of their nuclear infrastructure and have a path to obtain a nuclear bomb, is leading to grave repercussions in the region.
The fact that American diplomats are sitting on the same table for months, negotiating with the authoritarian leaders of the Islamic Republic, and the fact that President Obama appears to be appeasing the Iranian leaders, has provided the Islamic Republic with a powerful platform: global legitimacy.
The consequences of Obama’s actions are leading to a significant shift in the balance of power and geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East in favor the ruling clerics.
What Iranian leaders were not expecting from the nuclear deal is the international legitimacy they have gained. The international legitimacy is a crucial factor in ratcheting up Iran’s geopolitical, strategic, and economic influence in the region.
For example, one of the repercussions of President Obama’s actions is the recent Russian-Iranian deal.
At the beginning of this year, Sergei Shoigu, a Russian political figure, was the first Minister of Defense to visit Tehran in 15 years. This week, President Vladimir Putin paved the way for the delivery of a missile system to the Islamic Republic by lifting a ban on sales of advanced and sophisticated Russian air defense missiles to Tehran.
The ban was imposed in 2010 as a result of UN Security Council resolutions. Nevertheless, Iran’s military power and the Russian-Iranian partnership is shifting asthe P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China) and the Islamic Republic reached a framework for the final nuclear deal. The ban was lifted primarily because a framework was reached between the six world powers and the Islamic Republic.
For Iraniain leaders, the progress in nuclear talks can significantly ratchet up their geopolitical and economic influence in the region through global trades that can include the bolstering of Tehran’s military and defense system.
For example, the S-300 surface-to-air missile system can provide the Islamic Republic with a powerful deterrence against attacks on its nuclear sites. In addition, the arms sale will strengthen Iran’s geopolitical and strategic stance against other regional state actors, as well as global powers such as the United States, as Iran will be more emboldened to scuttle other rivals’ foreign policy objectives in the region.
On the other hand, Putin has long attempted to undermine US foreign policy and objectives in the region. Two of Russia’s strategic allies and major arms clients in the Middle East remain Syria and the Islamic Republic.
In addition, as Tehran is considered a strategic ally of Moscow, bolstering Iran’s military power will also further advance Russia’s strategic and geopolitical objectives in the region. By providing the advanced and sophisticated defense system to the Iranian leaders, Moscow can tip the balance of power against the US and its allies.
This global legitimacy might pave the way for European countries to trade arms with the Islamic Republic as well. Before European countries tap into Iran’s market, Russia attempts to secure its profits from its arms client (Iran), maintain its strategic alliance with Iran, reassert its military cooperation with Tehran, and enjoy a significant share in Iran’s market. Russia’s Ministry of Defense stated that Moscow is ready to quickly strike the arms sell deal, which is worth approximately $800 million.
President Obama’s actions have legitimized the Islamic Republic to buy arms and weapons from other countries without any powerful international opposition. In other words, the prospects of the final nuclear deal have prompted a race for several countries to benefit from the easing of UNSC sanctions and undermine US national interest in the region. A competition to secure trade with Iran has already been initiated. And Russia, long-term strategic ally of the Islamic Republic, would not desire to fall behind. As Andrei A. Klimov, the deputy chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s Senate, stated to the New York Times, “We need to think about the future of our trade partnership [with Iran]….We don’t want to wait for anybody else; it is a kind of competition, if you like.”
Finally, Russia and the Islamic Republic have utilized the international legitimacy gained from the nuclear talks to strengthen their arms, defense and strategic ties.
This international legitimacy will not only bolster Iran’s military power, which would further destabilize the region and raise the security concerns of other regional state actors, but will also set a global race to increase trades with Iran, including in arms sales.
President Obama is not likely to take any serious actions against Iran or Russia’s decision to sell sophisticated arms to the Islamic Republic. The only solution left is for the Congress to act. Congress has to gain some leverage in the ongoing nuclear talks and easing of sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The recent developments should push Congress to have a say in ratifying and approving any deal that President Obama is seeking to reach with the Ayatollahs.
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