Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kremlin Chess versus White House Tiddlywinks

The Russians are playing a deep game. Secretary Clinton and President Obama are no match.

Iran helps Russia more than it hurts it. Any talk of placing sanctions on Iran has to be considered in light of why Iran has support in the Kremlin.

Boris Morozov explains in the JPOST.

This is because Russia stands to benefit greatly from Iran's opposition vis-a-vis the United States and the United Nations Security Council, for two reasons: First, Iran is primarily a threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. This will increase regional tensions and strengthen Russia's position there. Good relations with Iran could position Russia as a mediator between these countries and the Islamic republic. For example, the recent cancellation of the deal to sell Iran anti-aircraft complexes was used to leverage Russia-Israel relations.

Second, Russia can use its relations with Iran as a bargaining chip in opposing the United States. The latest events demonstrate how, by changing its position toward sanctions, Russia achieved its goal: canceling the AMD program, despite its having been approved by the previous US administration.

Further, Russia isn't willing to forgo its economic relations with Iran. It benefits from the construction of a nuclear power station as it competes for supplying the necessary raw materials and supplies Iran with different types of weapons (including anti-aircraft), not to mention regular trade. This is probably one of the main reasons Russia is interested in preserving good relations with Iran.

Another factor worth mentioning is the issue of religion. Iran traditionally opposes radical Salafi Sunni Islamic movements such as that practiced by the Taliban and the Wahabiyya, which have become a serious threat in Russia's northern Caucasus area, especially Dagestan. These common enemies unite Russia and Iran.

Finally, Russia and Iran are both significant suppliers of oil to the world market. Every increase of political tension in the region influences oil prices, from which Russia can only gain. This is especially true during times of military conflict.


Obama's Nobel Peace Prize will not help him here. The Russians are not about peace. They are about hegemony.

~~~

Consider the above with the following. (Hat tip The Correspondence Committee.)

Georgia is training and lending safe passage to Al-Qaeda agents planning terrorist acts in the Russian Caucasus, the head of Russia's FSB secret service charged Tuesday.
"Audio evidence seized from insurgents shows that, together with emissaries of Al-Qaeda, they had contacts with representatives of the Georgian secret services," Alexander Bortnikov said, quoted by Russian news agencies.

Through these links, Georgia "participated in the training and transfer of terrorists to the territory of Chechnya," the FSB chief said.

Bortnikov also accused Tbilisi of supplying arms and funding terrorist activities in the neighbouring Caucasus region of Dagestan.

"They perpetually undertake to deliver weapons, explosives and financing for subversive acts on high security sites in Dagestan -- first and foremost on oil and gas pipelines," he said.


Russia will now leverage its belligerence against Georgia as another consideration in any negations concerning Iran.

Russia's "audio evidence" against Georgia should be treated with suspicion.

Will it be used as a pretext for another Russian assault on Georgia? Probably.

In negotiations, everything is always on the table. Always. Now Georgia has been put up on the table.

The Russians are playing a deep game.

The Obama administration might as well be playing tiddlywinks.

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