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Iran says has ‘strategic partnership’ with Russia in Syria

Hossein Jaberi Ansari (L), senior assistant to the Iranian foreign minister on special political affairs, speaks to Press TV’s English-language website in an exclusive interview, in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Tehran, Iran, on October 10, 2018. (Photo by Mostafa Pourkiani, for Press TV)

(This is the fourth news article in the series “Iran’s point man on Middle East.” To read the third, click here; the second, here; and the first, here. To read a report of the interview with Hossein Jaberi Ansari, see here.)


Iran has been working with Russia in a “strategic partnership” format based on mutual interests but is in no such “alliance” with any Eastern or Western power, says Iran’s point man on the Middle East, who has been working closely with the Russian Federation on Syria’s dossier.

Asked about the nature of Iran’s relationship with Russia, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, a top aide to the Iranian foreign minister, told Press TV’s website in an exclusive interview on October 10 that the Islamic Republic has since its foundation defined itself as nationally independent of any global power but has recognized and duly employed “partnerships” with countries within the framework of its national interests.

He meticulously differentiated between a “strategic alliance” — which he said was an obsolete practice of the Cold War era and never in the policy toolkit of the Islamic Republic — and “strategic partnership.”

“Russia is not our strategic ally; neither are we Russia’s strategic ally, in the sense that was very popular particularly in the bipolar era [of international politics], in the era of blocs and great […] alliances,” he said.

“We don’t have a strategic alliance with Russia, but we have strategic partnership [with it], in specific projects, based on specific mutual interests — and in spite of the differences we have [with Moscow] — and we can continue to have [such partnership] in the future, too,” Jaberi Ansari said.

He said Iran “exited the framework of alliances and affiliations with powers in the West and the East” after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The Islamic Republic, he said, has achieved its national independence “at great cost” and will not let that independence be dented in any shape or form.

“Neither in its relations with Russia, nor in its relations with any other power will Iran step toward violating its own national independence,” he said.

‘The facts’

But Iran highly values its relationship with Russia for a number of factual reasons, he said.

“Russia is our neighbor to the north, [and] Russia is a large neighbor and a global power. These are facts,” Jaberi Ansari said. “As such, the same rule that governs our relations with all our neighbors applies to Russia all the more.”

“No [Iranian] administration or politician can afford not to insert into its/his calculations the fact that Russia is our globally powerful neighbor.”

In his official capacity as senior assistant to the Iranian foreign minister on special political affairs, Jaberi Ansari has been working with Russia — and Turkey — in a peace process for Syria.

Iranian chief regional negotiator Hossein Jaberi Ansari (C) speaks with Russian mediator Alexander Lavrentiev during the third round of Syria peace talks at the Rixos President Hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan, on March 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Iran and Russia, allies of the Syrian government, have been giving Damascus advisory military help in coordination with one another. Russia has also been carrying out an aerial bombardment campaign in Syria on behalf of the Syrian government.

‘Iran subordinate to no country’

Jaberi Ansari said China, too, is another neighbor that, although not in Iran’s immediate neighborhood, has on various occasions — “in times of difficulty, at times of sanctions, conflicts, and wars” — been willing to cooperate and is thus well looked upon inside Iran.

“But none of that means that we are part of global blocs, or [involved in] East-West disputes, or that we have become subordinate to the East or the West,” he said.

This file photo shows Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (L) chatting with Iran’s Hossein Jaberi Ansari, senior assistant to the Iranian foreign minister on special political affairs.

Jaberi Ansari seemed to say that Iran considered its interests above all.

“Iran’s interests are in employing all the capacities that really exist in its international relations with Eastern and Western powers according to Iran’s national agenda. Whatever window is open, Iran and its wise politicians will use that window,” he said.

The Iranian official said while Russia has been willing to cooperate with Iran in economic, political, and security areas, the West, particularly America, has consistently sought to confront and contain Iran since 1979.

“When the Westerners close the windows […], Iran […] will find its own breathing room, will use the realities within the framework of its own interests, and activate the maximum capacity in its relations with Russia and China and all of its [other] neighbors,” he said.

“Iranian politicians,” Jaberi Ansari said, “make decisions based on the realities.”

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