BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:10 P.M.) – The Islamic Republic of Iran was allegedly invited by the Russian Federation to setup a fortified base at the Hmeimim Airport and another in the port-city of Tartous, professor Sami Moubayed, a prominent Syrian historian, wrote in the Asia Times on Friday.
According to Moubayed, the Russian tenure at the Hmeimim Airport is open-ended, with many of the neighborhoods near the installation have already been leased by Iran.
This may cause a problem for the Russians because the Iranian presence near their airport may encourage the jihadist rebels to attack the area.
Furthermore, an Iranian port on the Mediterranean may prompt Israel to step up their attacks in Syria, especially with Lebanon being so close to the Syrian coast.
“A permanent Iranian presence in Latakia could limit and possibly obstruct Russian surveillance and intelligence gathering, jam their radio-electronic technology, and jeopardize Russian air-defenses, aircraft, and the lives of military personnel,” Moubayed said.
The possibility of an Iranian naval base in Latakia seems may possess merit, as the Islamic Republic reportedly sent an official request to the Syrian government last February.
As mentioned above, Iran’s presence on the Mediterranean may increase tensions with Israel, but it may also provide a solution to the ongoing U.S. sanctions, which have prevented the Islamic Republic from accessing this sea.
“Everyone wants a Silk Road nowadays, and ports are a good place to start,” professor Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma told the Asia Times.
“Iran dreams of building a strong regional economy based on trade, highways and pipelines that cross from Iran to the Mediterranean. Helping to build up Syrian ports is only one element in a much larger vision of prosperity and shared interests. Most important will be the day that Iran can sell its oil and gas to Europe by transporting across Iraq and Syria,” Landis added.
Iran has yet to issue an official statement regarding this alleged move.