by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog
At the outset of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position and views were clearly spelled out by the Leader, Ayatullah Khamenei, and by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The crux of Iran’s stance is that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not condone foreign military advancements into any sovereign country by any power due to the fact that death of innocent civilians, destruction of critical civil infrastructures, regional instability, and unpredictable adverse outcomes become inevitable. At the same time, Iran considers the United States to be the main instigator and culprit of the crises in Ukraine. In an earlier article posted on the Saker blog (see here), I quoted Ayatullah Khamenei pointing to some of these concerns:
“[United States of] America is a mafia regime and Ukraine, too, is a victim of this policy of crisis creation. [United States of] America brought Ukraine to this point by infiltrating into the internal affairs of that country, inciting uprisings against its governments by velvet movements or color revolutions, by presence of US senators in the gatherings of oppositional groups and by creating, toppling this government and replacing it with that government. Naturally, they led to this point. We, of course, are against wars and destruction anywhere. This is our fixed policy.”
This official and transparent stance is clearly devised with full awareness of geopolitical developments and events (both overt and covert) of the past few decades. It is quite evident that key decision makers in Iran neither condone Russia’s military advancement into Ukraine nor do they consider Ukraine to be a genuinely sovereign country free from foreign meddling and interventions.
In fact, we could imagine Ukraine to be just as independent as many other countries in Europe and Asia and the likes of United Arab Emirates, Saudi kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and more. These countries have allowed their respective lands to become stumping grounds for arrogant powers to set up shops to export crime and mischief to their neighbors and beyond. In the shortcomings of their rulers, people cannot be absolved of responsibility.
The Iranians have years of empirical evidence and first-hand field experience as proof that most of the above named countries and nations lack independent decision-making capacity. In private conversations, too, many of their [official] people make embarrassingly heart-felt confessions to our official people about their lack of core endoskeleton when it comes to reneging on their obligations to Iran due to incessant pressure from the United States.
It is not difficult to deduct, therefore, that officials in Iran consider Russia’s goals and concerns to be legitimate and well-founded. However, they also consider an all-out military advancement into Ukraine may not have been the most prudent and sagacious way to address Russia’s well-justified concerns.
So, what do they suggest? Exactly how long should Russia have waited to take any action serious enough not to fall on deaf ears? Should Russia have waited and fought the NATO-trained- Nazi-inspired foot soldiers of the West conduct operations in Moscow neighborhoods or are they suggesting an alternative? Did/does Russia have any alternatives? More significantly, how are all these convoluted aspects of Russian-Ukrainian crises teased apart in terms of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy, its strategic partnership with Russia, Iran’s internal affairs, and the Resistance’s activities in the region?
In this essay, I hope to explore limited dimensions of some of these questions as well as discuss other contrasting views circulating in Iran about the subject. Hopefully, this exploration could illuminate Iran’s current position and possible future position.
Other Viewpoints about Russia-Ukraine Crises Circulating within Iran
Some alternative views that stand in stark contrast with the views expressed by our Leader, Ayatullah Khamenei, and the government officials here have been channeled through some well-known personalities such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an ex-president of Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad has been quite vocal about his views. In fact, Mr. Ahmadinejad issued an official statement in this regard addressing the government of Russia and the Russian people, the Ukrainian people, and Mr. Zelensky.
Ahmadinejad’s views obtained some currency in some circles but are regarded as fringe by a great majority of the public here. I think it would be useful to translate at least parts of his statements in order to have a more well-rounded understanding of various perspectives inside Iran.
In a videotaped statement he released about the events (see here), he declared (I transcribe and translate):
“Without a doubt, the attack and aggression by Russia against Ukraine is a critical event and an introduction to many more critical events that follow. Here, for the nth time and very frankly, I must severely condemn the attack and aggression of Russia against Ukraine. Before, I spoke about the plot to change the political map of the world by [the US] America, Russia, and China. These three countries, in a coordinated fashion, have devised a plan to secure their power and control over the world once again. That is, with this enormous wave of humans, of human awakening that has begun, they have become frightened. They say, very soon, this wave would surpass the world. They sat and made a decision that one would take Ukraine, the other one would take Taiwan, and this one would come for Iran. That means, they would remove their gravest worries and, at the same time, they dominate.
Now, if, in our mind, we review the world, if this happens, then there is no place for anyone to say anything. Today, and fortunately, the epic presence and the heroic resistance by the Ukrainian people have introduced serious obstacles in execution and completion of that plot. They hit a bump.”
I do not intent to translate the entire 13-minute statement. In the last couple of minutes of his script-reading speech, he finishes with the following pronouncements:
The Iranian nation holds in high esteem their [the Ukrainian people’s] participation and epic resistance and prays for their victory against the aggressors. The Iranian nation asks God to prevent the expansionist gluts from continuing and to end the war, and to make possible the sweet flow of life among all people, including two great people of Ukraine and Russia. At the end, once again, I hold in high regard the resistance of the nation of Ukraine, President Zelensky, and other officials in Ukraine. And I send to them the friendship and prayer of the Iranian nation.
I take refuge in God when He turns us into a lesson for others! Firstly, I wonder if Mr. Ahmadinejad realizes that he is reading an exact script written by major architects of the crises in Ukraine. Secondly, I am not too sure how many times he must be reminded that he is no longer the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and he is not authorized to speak on behalf of this nation. Thirdly, his statement reflects an array of uninformed, non-critical, and non-strategic thinking in a matter that is rather convoluted, complex, and rather nuanced. It is unfair and unjust in what it deliberately omits.
In the entire 13-minute video statement, there is not a single reference to the events of the past few years in Ukraine (including 30 plus US-financed and operated biological weapons labs about which he wrote an official complaint to the UN and to which I referred in one of the essays I wrote last year about COVID in the Islamic Republic of Iran (See here). Neither is there any mention of the role the US-West, Inc. has played in destabilizing that country and using it as a lever against Russia and a launching pad for all sorts of mischief in the region.
I must open a parenthesis here and add that I do not find Ahmadinejad’s stance all that surprising. When Daesh/ISIS was advancing in Syria and was busy chopping heads right, left, and center, he came forcefully against Bashar Asad and the Syrian government. He fiercely objected to Iran’s involvement and help in that country and issued statements in that regard. I referenced some of these when discussing his disqualification in the Iranian presidential election in another essay published last year (See here). Had he been in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s overall foreign policy, we have little doubt would have now been busy fighting ISIS or some other variants inside our own cities and neighborhoods. Close parenthesis. We thank God Almighty for His Blessings in the form of a wise Leader.
As I mentioned, the majority of the public in Iran do not share Ahmadinejad’s particular view. There are some though who would like him to join his brother in armchair, Mr. President Zelensky, in his fight in Ukraine. Perhaps after they have defeated Russia, they could have a live show discussing the following two videos on Ukrainian national television: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Homosexuality versus Freedom Gay Fetish Dance with President Zelensky. Who knows, perhaps he could lead him to the Straight Path.
Again, I take refuge in God when He leaves us (due to our own arrogance and delusions of grandeur) to our own devices even for a nanosecond.
The Boundaries of Iran-Russia Relationship and Partnership
Successful collaboration and strategic coordination of operations between Iran and Russia in the battlefields of Syria, geopolitical and economic shifts in Asia and Eurasia, and perhaps a sense of comradery primarily due to the fact that both countries have been fierce targets for “crippling” sanctions by the US/West Inc. have all made the relationship between Iran and Russia to a phenomenon that is rather interesting and noteworthy. I discussed some contemporary and historical aspects of this relationship in another essay published last year (See here).
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s general framework for any foreign relation and partnership is firmly rooted in the jealously guarded Revolutionary motto of “Neither East, Nor West”, freedom, and full independence from any foreign pressure and interference. Its relationship with Russia, too, must be viewed, first and foremost, within that framework. So, what does this tell us about Iran’s policy and approach towards these particular crises?
Let us be rather frank and transparent and deal with the obvious first. Russian military’s advancement into Ukraine has suddenly resulted in some favorable outcomes for Iran and for some other countries friendly to Iran in the region. It has sent panic, disillusion about the US power, and insecurity to some other countries not so friendly to Iran.
Higher oil prices, halt in all sorts of restrictions on oil export, higher enthusiasm on the part of the US and Europe to reach an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over JCPOA, which has been in coma and on life support for a while now, sudden visits by keepers of oil wells with flag masquerading as Arab nations to bury the hatchet and make nice with Iran have also been among the consequences.
Missile attacks by Yemen on Saudi Oil facilities had never produced any sort of meaningful change in the attitude of the aggressors (US-Saudi-Brits) before. With Russia’s retaliatory work and countermeasures, the last couple of missile attacks by Yemen, however, seem to have become highly effective since they occurred at the right time. Oh, our cup runneth over!
Why? Three important reasons: 1) The US-West Inc. cannot fight effectively in more than one meaningful front at a time; 2) The US and Western nations cannot weather the storms of high energy and oil-based products (which includes almost everything). So, it is attempting to temporarily put Iran and others in our region on the back burner; and 3) There are always always always limits to how much media magic shows can achieve. The US-West Inc. will realize this, as always, soon enough.
Regardless of Russia’s mode of dealing with Ukraine problem and current needs for the US-West, Inc. to keep oil prices low, I can state for a fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran will, God Willing, never sacrifice its long-term goals for any short-term superficial gains.
Iran’s two main priorities were and are the eviction of all US forces from our region in retaliation for the martyrdom of our great Sardar, Shahid Soleimani, and dismantling of the illegitimate Zionist regime to return the land of Palestine to its rightful owners, the true Palestinians (Muslim, Christians, Jews, Arabs, and non-Arabs). Her collaboration or deal with Russia or any other nation or group of nations with plus or minus designations in ANY activity, exchange, and operation, be they short-, medium-, or long-term, will be directly related to how such collaborations and activities bring her a step closer to achieving the Islamic Republic of Iran’s own main goals and priorities.
In this context, it is not too difficult to see how Russia’s potential concerns with the countries and regions to her south happen to be largely alleviated simply due to the fact that they may coincide with Iran’s independent priorities and activities, be they military, economic, and political, and her vigilance in achieving her stated goals.
When the United States, Inc. attacked Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein from power, most notable think tanks in the West claimed that the Islamic Republic of Iran emerged the biggest winner. With Russia attacking Ukraine, who knows what other oppressed nations could emerge as the winners. God works in mysterious ways.
Russia-Ukraine Crisis in a Larger Inter-continental Context
In an essay titled Afghanistan, Taliban, the Resistance, and the Region (see Here), I alluded to a method used by the US-West, Inc. on Iran, Russia, and China to dismantle stability and positive developments in our region. I wrote:
“Afghanistan is a major keystone species in this ecosystem. Disintegration of Afghanistan means the new “Silk Road” will first turn into a “Rough Road” and then into an “Abandoned Road” and ultimately destroys the concord among the main players in Asia. In addition, it can serve as a tool for the application of internal-external clamp-style customized and separate pressures on Iran, Russia, China, and other countries in the region.”
Clamp-style pressures include inciting unrest, instability and sedition within each country and using belligerent neighbors from without each country. For the Islamic Republic of Iran they did/do everything they can to drag Iran’s military into Afghanistan. There is not a day that goes by and we do not hear about the massacre of Shia in this mosque and that school, in this gathering and that outing. Then, there is the Republic of Azerbaijan to the north and the Iraqi Kurdistan to the west, the oil wells with flags to the south that have each turned themselves into US-West-Zionist regime’s concubines in some form or shape. Certainly, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not take any of these lying down but we have military operations that are loud and we have calculated military operations that are silent but deadly enough.
To pressure Russia, there is Ukraine + a handful of other has-been nations proudly flying rainbow flags pretending they count for anything. And finally for China there is Tao (Taiwan + AUKUS + Occupied territories of Japan and South Korea).
The goal is rather simple, as Connable & McNerney opined in their commentary titled “The Will to Fight and the Fate of Nations,”:
“Overmatching Russian mass and equipment is one part of a more complex and important pathway to overmatching the Russians. It is worth repeating that Russians — and Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean soldiers, sailors, airmen, and political leaders — can be broken. The U.S. military simply does not devote enough attention to understanding how to break them, or at least erode their resolve, in order to make war less likely and to make our success in war more likely and less costly.”
To have a good grasp of where the authors are coming from, I highly recommend two other documents published by RAND Corporation titled: “Will to Fight: Analyzing, Modeling, and Simulating the Will to Fight of Military Units,” and “National Will to Fight: Why Some States Keep Fighting and Others Don’t,” from which the authors’ commentary obtains its essence.
Russia’s military advancement into Ukraine seems to have provided the US-West Inc. with a field experiment necessary to assess their “Will to Fight Model” answering the following question: “What are the political, economic, and military variables that may strengthen or weaken national will to fight, and which are most important?” Or, put more succinctly and eloquently, they wish to confirm or refute their null hypothesis of “No relationship between ‘will to fight’ (at individual, unit, national, and leadership levels) and winning the game of chicken.”
Allow me just post an image of the WTF Model I have referenced for those who may not search and study the documents:
I am quite curious to see how this conceptual model, its multiple constructs, and included variables fair in this test. However, given what we have been observing in the media, I very much like to suggest the following changes to the model (let’s suppose it is an iterative model) for the sake of accuracy and add another layer that is often omitted by gods of war:
Now, I think that looks much better and more accurate. With the new model, let’s see how things turn out. Meanwhile, War on the Rocks seems to believe “Ukraine shows how Taiwan needs more air defense,” based on preliminary reports of fabricated data collected from the imagined field and reported through the beacon of honesty and accuracy, Tweeter. I do not know why but the article just flashed Miller’s Death of a Salesman play before my eyes. والسلام.
 War on the Rocks, B. Cannable & M. McNerney (2018). “The will to fight and the fate of nations,” Accessed online at: https://warontherocks.com/2018/12/the-will-to-fight-and-the-fate-of-nations/
 RAND Arroyo Center (2019). “Will to Fight: Analyzing, Modeling, and Simulating the Will to Fight of Military Units,” by B. Connable, M.J. McNerney, et al., RR2341-A, 2019. Accessed online at: www.rand.org/t/RR2341.
 RAND Corporation (2019). “National Will to Fight: Why Some States Keep Fighting and Others Don’t,” by M. J. McNerney, Ben Connable, et al., RR-2477-A, 2019. Accessed online at: www.rand.org/t/RR2477.
 RAND Corporation Brief,(2019). “Will to Fight: Returning Human Fundamentals of War.” Accessed online at: www.rand.org/t/RB10040.
 War on the Rocks. “Ukraine Shows Why Taiwan Needs More Air Defense,” by H. Halem and E. Freymann, published on April 7, 2022. Accessed online at: https://warontherocks.com/2022/04/ukraine-shows-why-taiwan-needs-more-air-defense/