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A Mighty Sword: Iran’s Oil Caught Up In Russian Geopolitics – OpEd

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A recent 20-year deal between Iran and Russia regarding Iran’s massive Chalous gas field in the Caspian Sea has been reported by news site OilPrice.com According to one of the deal’s provisions, Iran has agreed that Russia will tighten its grip on the gas market and determine at what price and to which countries Iran will sell gas.

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In late February, a few days after Russia invaded of Ukraine, Russia officially threatened to cut off its gas exports to Europe. This prompted Germany at that time to suspend new sanctions against Russia and led serious speculation among Europeans and their energy future. One theory said that perhaps a few years ago, Iran “consciously” withdrew from the European gas market in order to increase Moscow’s ability to increase pressure on Europe. In this speculation, Iran certainly helped Moscow to paralyze Europe by using energy and force Europe to react to the campaign to occupy Ukraine. In this light, Iran, with Russia’s help, has practically turned Europe’s winter into a frozen purgatory.

In recent days, Europe’s view on the Iranian issue has changed dramatically. Europe is now faced with a major question. First, was Iran a secret ally of Russia in the Ukraine case? If the answer to this question is yes, another question arises. What are the objectives of the main decision-maker in Tehran, who is the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who wanted to have a free hand in adopting any policy by bringing in Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and unifying his regime?

According to Mehran Emadi, Iran’s official adviser on the European Union economy, before and in 2016, Europe was planning to invest in Iranian gas projects to buy gas from the country and reduce its dependence on Russia. The US had also recognized that it was in Europe’s interest to issue licenses to export gas from Iran, but suddenly the situation escalated to the point where the West said Iran did not want to cooperate and was instead pursuing Russia’s energy policies.

Iran, whose economy is collapsing, is the second-largest holder of natural gas in the world. But Iran does not extract its share of gas and does not sell it. Nor does the Iranian theocracy pursue its nation’s best interests but instead follows its own Islamist and fundamentalist interests. According to government expert Emadi, the Iranian people, at least half of whom live in absolute poverty, have been deprived of $23 billion for not extracting oil.

OilPrice.com also explains that with the discovery of the Chalous gas field, Iran is in a position to supply 20% of European gas. The gas field (in northern Iran) may pose a serious geopolitical threat to Russia’s dominant role in the European gas market. In other words, Russia has always tried to prevent Iranian gas enter the European energy market under any circumstances. Because if Iran enters the European energy market, Russia’s authority in Europe will be damaged. 

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Previously, Europe saw Iran as a country that not only destabilized the region, but also posed a threat through its regional influence—in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen—through its missile development and bombing plans, and through the development of Islamism and fundamentalism. But now the view has been created that Iran would be Moscow’s sword in the region.

The cooperation between the Iranian and Russian regimes has led the Arab countries to conclude major agreements with Russia to keep Russia away from Iran, and during the aggression against Ukraine, they did not stand with Ukraine along with other countries of the world to publicly condemn this aggression, which is contrary to the UN Charter.

The interests of the Supreme Leader in this deadly cooperation

In a state of internal and international isolation, While Iranian society has become a powder keg and Ali Khamenei unable to solve its economic collapse, he wants with a “look to the east” (cooperation and even unity with Russia and China). He therefore seeks to create a rift in the P5+1 with the help of Russia so that, the Iranian issue is not submitted to the Security Council, or the trigger mechanism is not used against his regime.

Global solidarity, namely the P5+1 alliance, could force the Iranian regime to withdraw from building an atomic bomb in the nuclear talks. And the Iranian regime has no choice but to retreat. The first step back, despite this explosive society, will be the conquest of the regime’s last stronghold.

Hamid Enayat

Hamid Enayat is an Iranian human rights activist and analyst based in Europe.

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