PHOTO: Claimed image of a Russian long-range bomber at a base in western Iran
Facing criticism from MPs, Iran’s regime has stepped back from full public agreement to Russian use of an Iranian airbase for operations in northern Syria.
Russian Tu22-33M “Backfire” long-range bombers and Su-34 tactical bombers began operations from the Hamedan base last Monday. Iranian officials — including the Secretary of the National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani — indicated that the agreement was part of an Iranian-Russian “strategic cooperation” in the region.
However, 20 MPs — most of them conservatives — filed a protest that the Russian use of the base violated the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, which prohibits any foreign military presence in the country. Speaker Ali Larijani had to insist, “Iran and Russia enjoy close views on the solution to the crisis of terrorism in the region and [have] close cooperation, but no military base has been granted to Russia or any other country at all.”
On Saturday, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan tried again to redefine the position. He indicated that the Russian warplanes were not “deployed” at the Hamedan base. Instead, they were merely using it as a “stopover”.
While trying to ease internal criticism, Dehghan maintained the firm line over intervention behind Syria’s Assad regime:
[Russia and Iran are [fighting instability and insecurity, the establishment of peace and security, and the eradication of terrorism in the region].
We will keep up the cooperation until the attainment of the intended goals.
The Defense Minister also tried to justify Russian attacks on opposition-held territory in northern Syria, as well as the nominal targets of the Islamic State and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra.
The West is of the opinion that only Daesh [the Islamic State] should be confronted in Syria as a terror group, but we believe that all those groups that operate to cause instability in the [Arab] country are terrorist and should be confronted.
Supreme Leader: Our “Revolutionary Islam” Has Paralyzed US
The Supreme Leader has used a speech on World Mosque Day to again declare the Islamic Republic’s victory over America:
Due to ‘Revolutionary Islam’ & ‘Islamic Revolution’ world bullying powers failed in goal of dominating region& US is paralyzed in West Asia.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 21, 2016
While proclaiming triumph, Ayatollah Khamenei also warned that Iran’s enemies are content with a “secular Islam” rather than the “revolutionary” version promoted by the Islamic Republic.