US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to make his first visit to Russia early next week. According to the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation, the working trip of the head of the State Department to our country was organized at the request of the American side in order to “continue a series of high-level contacts between Russia and the United States.”
The Pompeo program includes negotiations in Sochi with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during which it is expected to discuss political crises in Venezuela, Syria, and Ukraine. Perhaps – and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. It is also possible that the head of the US foreign ministry will be received by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In any case, this was made clear by the press secretary of the head of the Russian state, Dmitry Peskov, without specifying, however, the agenda.
The last time the heads of diplomacy of the two countries contacted quite recently, on May 6, “on the margins” of the Arctic Forum in the Finnish city of Rovanieli, where Pompeo made a scandalous speech, accusing Russia and China of aggressive behavior in the region. However, after talking with Lavrov for an hour, he later called the conversation “good.” And on the sidelines of the forum he even expressed hope to achieve some progress in relations with Russia, despite the fact that “we have completely different interests.”
Our minister, in turn, appreciated the conversation with his American counterpart with almost the same words, denoting it as “good and constructive.”
Meanwhile, in the days following this meeting, the constructive actions in Washington’s actions clearly diminished. Pompeo suddenly canceled a visit scheduled for May 7 to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And he went straight to Baghdad, where he held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abd al-Mahdi. With the goal, as reported by sources of RT Arabic, “to discuss the exclusion of Iraq from cooperation with Iran, which is under US sanctions.
Just a couple of days before the Secretary of State’s unplanned visit to Iraq, another person in charge of the US administration — Trump’s adviser on national security, John Bolton, makes a statement that the United States is ready to send its naval strike force led by the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and strategic bombers to the shores of Iran. -52. He called it a “signal” to Tehran in case he decides to attack American forces in the Middle East – allegedly information about the preparation of such an attack was received by the American command.
And on the eve it became known that, under the pretext of the same alleged Iranian aggressiveness, the States intend to deploy an additional number of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles in the region. True, it will depend on “whether Washington sees the measures taken by Iran to de-escalate the threat.”
At the same time, the White House continues to intensify sanctions pressure on Tehran. On Wednesday, in particular, Trump signed a decree on further restrictive measures against the steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors of the Islamic Republic.
It is clear that the confrontation between the United States and Iran is growing. And Washington is clearly interested in rocking the situation. Perhaps, as a “revenge” for Syria, where the initiative seized Russia, not allowing the government of Bashar al-Assad to be removed and having achieved significant success in the fight against ISIS militants.
Question: what can all this lead to? Including – for the Americans themselves and their coalition allies?
- Indeed, both Pompeo, Bolton and Trump themselves are doing a lot to weaken Iran, – commented Gurmer Isayev, the head of the St. Petersburg Center for the Study of the Modern Middle East.
– In response, Iran is trying to partially withdraw from the nuclear deal that Trump refused a year ago.
On 29 April in Sweden, a tender was summed up for dismantling two reactor vessels of the first and second power units of the Oskarhamn nuclear power plant and two buildings at the Barsebek nuclear power plant.
As for the upcoming visit of Pompeo to Sochi, the Americans, I think, also perfectly see that relations in Syria and between Iran and Russia are very uneasy. Firstly, it is connected with the fact that the key opponents of the Syrian leadership are defeated – I mean ISIS. While ISIS threatened Assad, Russia and Iran had common goals. But now, the closer the matter is to the denouement (although a significant part of Syria is still under the control of various groups), it seems to me that the Americans are ready to discuss with Russia the conditions for further actions in Syria.
And the States are certainly interested in the fact that there are no Iranians in Syria. They need to weaken Iran as much as possible in this direction. Pompeo’s last unscheduled visit to Iraq is precisely in this contact – to pressure Baghdad so that it is not an ally of Tehran. Therefore, I think Americans will offer Russia a kind of deal.
– Probably, this is not very good when diplomacy turns into a bid?
– In general, the Syrian campaign has long turned into a history of transactions. For the victorious procession of the Syrian army, too, are the transaction at the highest level. Between Turkey and Russia, between Russia and the United States. And Israel is involved in this.
And now, I think Americans are also offering a deal. Because in fact it is like a chess game, during which decisions are made in Moscow or Ankara.
– And what kind of a deal can the United States offer to suit us in this situation?
– Perhaps – this is the conclusion or the maximum weakening of the Iranians in Syria in exchange for the fact that Russia will act more freely there.
The Pentagon realized that, unlike Moscow, Tehran has a weak army and cannot create an atomic bomb.
– And how can we influence Iran?
– Suppose that when Israel attacks Iranian units in Syria, the Russian S-300 and S-400 complexes will remain silent. The same Israel has long been asking Russia to help push the Iranian troops and pro-Iranian armed groups away from the Golan Heights.
One way or another, there is a struggle for Assad. Because it is believed that Assad is quite a pro-Iranian figure. And the rumors that there have been clashes between the pro-Russian and pro-Iranian units in Syria are an indicator.
Now in Syria, there is the sharpest energy crisis. In fact, there is no fuel – there are many kilometers of cars at gas stations. This is a signal that Iranian tankers have ceased to pass through the Suez Canal, have ceased to supply fuel to Damascus. And then Russia gets the port of Tartus for rent for 49 years. And the issue of alternative fuel supplies to Iranian is being resolved.
That is, obviously, there is some kind of competitive struggle between Russia and Iran: who will reap the benefits of victory in the war in Syria? And looking ahead: who will recover Syria? What money? And this, if not hundreds, then tens of billions of dollars. Where to get these funds?
It is clear that Russia is interested in having Russian companies get good contracts in Syria. I admit that there may be a deal between the Americans, the Saudis and Moscow in this regard.
– What do you think about the statement by Iranian Navy Commander-in-Chief Hosein Hanzad that in the coming months Russian ships will arrive in southern Iranian ports to participate in joint Iranian-Russian exercises? True, he did not provide the dates and venue. But the IRNA agency suggested that joint exercises could take place in the Strait of Hormuz, which separates the Persian and Oman gulfs. Some experts do not even rule out that Iran could block the strait, which will inevitably hit the entire global economy, since about 30% of the oil from the region and all Qatar LNG is transported through it. Do you think this is possible?
– Such statements – about the overlapping of the Strait of Hormuz – are heard from the Iranian military (and not only the military) not for the first time. But I am afraid that this will be a step towards direct confrontation, in which Iran still has few chances.
That is, if the United States, the Saudis, and so on. will strike at Iran (which I also doubt, of course), it will be a way out, you know, beyond. Because the overlap of the key artery will imply a forceful action.
It seems to me that, of course, there will be pressure on Iran. But it will turn out, so to speak, through the secondary fronts.
And there are people in Iran who call on the authorities to abandon such an aggressive foreign policy, because the economic situation in the country is very bad.
– It is difficult for it to be good if the United States continues to crush the country with its “paralyzing sanctions”, despite the fact that the Iranians until recently continued to abide by the terms of the agreement on the nuclear program …
– From the point of view of nuclear technology, I observed – yes. But Iran was very active on all other fronts – in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
Trump criticized Obama for his attempts to ease the pressure on Iran. It is in this context: they say Obama believed the Iranians. They seem to have stopped the development of nuclear technology. But at the same time, they continued their active foreign policy.
It is clear that now few people in the region are interested in strengthening Iran. And Iran, somewhere since 2004, in fact, very successfully used the American invasion of Iraq, the Syrian situation, and the Yemen civil war. And it seems to me that other interested countries have gathered to put Iran a «little bit down».
The rhetoric, in any case, is quite aggressive from both the Saudis and the Americans. The high posts in the administration of Trump belong to people who call for military action against Iran.
Iran is hard. But in Iran itself there is no consensus. For example, former President Ahmadinejad criticizes the Iranian leadership. He says that “in some regions there is a shortage of food, and we provide such serious support to other regimes abroad.” And the “Guardians”, on the contrary, are afraid that if, they say, we are now leaving, they will simply crush us. That is, the situation is even ambiguous in Tehran. And yet, in spite of everything, I hope that the war will not come.