Iran tells Russian pilots to leave over S-300 deal tensions
Rapture Forum Staff: Chris
The YNetNews agency is reporting that Iran has officially given Russia's commercial pilots two months to leave the country in what is seen as a strategic move over the stalled S-300 anti-aircraft defense system. It apparently looks like Iran is trying to put some pressure on the Russians for not following through and completing the deal. The YNetNews article reports:
Iran has given Russian commercial pilots working in the Islamic Republic two months to leave the country as it has no need for them, Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani was quoted as saying on Saturday. The move is a further sign of strains between Iran and Russia, which has indicated it could back new sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear work. For its part, Iran has voiced frustration over Moscow's failure to deliver a defense missile system.
Russia, which has significant trade ties with Iran, is among six world powers trying to find a diplomatic solution to the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. Moscow has indicated it could support new sanctions against Iran provided they are not too severe. Iran denies Western accusations that its nuclear work is aimed at developing bombs. Iranian officials have voiced growing frustration at Russia's failure to supply the advanced S-300 missile defense system, which Israel and the United States do not want Tehran to have. Russia last month said it would not sell weapons if it leads to destabilization in any region.
As we can see, Iran is apparently trying to use the recent problems with their aircraft and embarrassing incidents such as aircraft catching fire due to faulty parts in order to give them the excuse to kick out Russian pilots due to the political stalemate with Russia over the S-300 missile defense system. As we have noted before the Iranians have already paid for the system, yet Russia has delayed delivering the system for years due to political difficulties with the international community. Iran is probably getting very itchy to get their hands on the defense system as they fear that the chances for an Israeli strike on their nuclear facilities is coming to a head soon. The S-300 anti-aircraft defense system is one if not perhaps the most advanced system of it's kind in the world as it has the ability to focus on multiple targets at one time. The Iranians want to use the system to defend their nuclear facilities in case of a US and/or Israel military strike.
The current sad shape of Iran's airlines is due in part to sanctions and the unwillingness of the West to sell Iran parts for it's aging fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The YNetNews article gave a run down on this situation:
Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency said the idea to order the Russian pilots to leave the country gained momentum after a Russian-made aircraft caught fire as it landed in northeastern Iran in January, injuring more than 40 people. The plane belonged to Iran's Taban airline but the pilot was Russian, Fars said. It did not say how many Russians currently worked as pilots for Iranian airlines. "Upon an order from the president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), the Road and Transport Ministry has set a two-month deadline, upon the expiry of which all Russian pilots will have to leave the country," Behbahani said.
"When our country itself possesses plenty of professional and specialist pilots, there is no need to bring in pilots from abroad," he told Fars. Iran has suffered a string of crashes in the past few decades, many involving Russian-made aircraft. In 2009 a Tupolev aircraft flying to Armenia caught fire in mid-air and crashed, killing all 168 people on board. US sanctions against Iran have prevented it from buying new aircraft or spare parts from the West, forcing it to supplement its ageing fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes with aircraft from Russia and other former Soviet states. Behbahani said about 120 aircraft out of 193 planes in Iran's commercial fleet were currently active, with the rest grounded for one reason or another.
Given the current state of affairs with Iran and the three rounds of sanctions placed on them by the international community, you would think that Iran would be interested in staying on the good side with Russia. However, I think this article demonstrates the fact that when it comes to dealing with the fanatical regime in Iran, appeasement does not work under any circumstance. The Russians have aligned themselves with the Islamist regime in Tehran and now they are going to find out that Iran will play them for what they are worth by pulling stunts like the one highlighted in the YNetNews article. By kicking out the Russian pilots, Iran hopes to pressure Russia into completing the deal that has already been finalized. Russia on the other hand wishes to as usual ride the fence with the international community by making deals with the Iranians while trying to go along as much as possible on the international stage with sanctions, etc. As Iran gets closer and closer to the nuclear finish line, I believe that Russia is going to find it harder and harder to remain on the fence. Eventually they will be forced to take a stand like they did against Georgia. And that stand will likely occur when the Ezekiel 38-39 coalition lines up to move against Israel perhaps in the near future.
The news outlets are also reporting that the United Nations passed weak sanctions on Iran in a vote on Friday night. The sanctions placed on Iran will allow Russia to continue to make arms sales with Iran and it also allows China to continue on with their economic activities with existing banks in Iran. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Western countries, under pressure from Russia and China, drafted a blueprint for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran which would not tighten the ban on trade between Western banks and the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), Israel Radio reported overnight Friday. Diplomats at the United Nations were quoted as saying that the United States, Britain, France and Germany accepted Russia’s proposal that the West only ban trading with newly-established Iranian banks, and not increase existing trade limitations with the CBI. China holds a position similar to Russia’s.
The new UN draft for sanctions against Iran would not put the Islamic republic in a black list of countries obligating all member states to avoid trade with the country, but does allow smaller entities, like the US or the entire bloc of European Union member countries, to implement their own sanctions. Russia proposed that oversight on trade with Iran be made according to a similar model as current global trade with North Korea. Additionally, Russia opposes a full weapons embargo against Iran.
The fourth round of sanctions against Iran seems to have been significantly weakened by the objections of Russia and China which are Iran's two main economic trading partners. This was expected as both countries stand to lose out significantly if "crippling" sanctions were applied to Iran. The Russians and Chinese are simply trying to protect their economic interests while trying to appear to go along with the international community's will to further punish Iran. Russia anticipates that there will be more arms sales to Iran in addition to more nuclear work that has already been in recent discussions with the Iranians. China on the other hand wants to continue their imports of Iranian oil so that their economy and manufacturing industries can continue to produce goods to export around the world.
After looking at this fourth round of sanctions against Iran, I am thinking that the real winner here is Iran and the loser will be Israel. Iran will have escaped the "crippling" sanctions that the United States and Europe had wanted to place on them, while Israel will be the loser as it will mean that the diplomatic process continues to fail them leaving only the military option as the only choice they have to stop Iran. This of course is not surprising as I believe that something big will have to happen in the region to get the Gog/Magog allies of Ezekiel 38-39 to move together and try to invade Israel from the north. A strike on Iran would certainly do the trick as many Iranian and Russia nuclear technicians would be killed in any military strike against Iran's nuclear program. There is no reasonable way to warn Russia ahead of time of a strike as they would surely relay that information to Iran. Russia could even stand next to Iran and try to bully Israel into not striking. In other words, the whole situation is a serious mess.
Let us continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we watch the current events in the region that are surely heading to a climax. The lid could literally fly off the pot at anytime.