The escalating conflict around Iran should be contained by common effort, otherwise the promising Arab Spring will grow into a “scorching Arab Summer,” says Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s former envoy to NATO.
“Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security,” stressed Rogozin.
Dmitry Rogozin, who served as Russia’s special envoy to NATO in 2008-2011, was appointed deputy prime minister by Vladimir Putin in December. On Friday he was bidding farewell to his NATO colleagues in the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
As for Syria, if NATO persists in interfering in its affairs, a catastrophe will be hard to avoid, said Rogozin, talking to journalists on the premises of the Russian mission to the alliance.
“The example of Libya should have cooled everybody down in matters dealing with foreign civil wars,” he said, stressing that this is his personal point of view.
“Syria must be left alone and the sides to the conflict must be assisted in breaking the stand-off and starting negotiations. No one must interfere with Syria. This is dangerous,” added Rogozin.
The West’s attempts to improve democracy in the Middle East and North Africa have resulted in Islamists coming to power. It is now up to the West to decide how comfortable they feel with neighbors who determine their politics with Sharia law, says Rogozin.
“If we add the escalating tensions around Iran to the situation in Syria and the consequences of the Libyan war, then the upcoming 'scorching' Arab Summer, which is following the Arab Spring, will hardly be to anyone’s taste.”
Despite his recent promotion, Rogozin is still in charge of Russia-NATO discussions on anti-missile defense (AMD) issues.
A legal binding that the European and American missile defense systems will not target Russia has not been taken off the table, Rogozin pointed out.
“It seems strange that it is Russia who is required to show flexibility. This is not our project. If an architect is building a house, it is up to him to offer a design which would not violate property rights, area design and neighbors’ interests. So it is our US colleagues who should demonstrate miraculous flexibility to ensure that their AMD system does not violate the interests of other countries if it is to be located in Europe.”
Rogozin also called on European leaders to stop being “political puppets” in the AMD game, adding that everyone should stand for their own interests, not for some “Atlantic solidarity.”
If Moscow’s position is ignored and the range of the US anti-missile defense system covers the European part of Russia, this will be considered a situation requiring defensive action.
“I will certainly ensure Russia will give a corresponding technical response if the AMD system endangers our national interests. This will result in the American AMD being considered a waste of money,” said Rogozin.
Russia has everything needed to annihilate any attempt “to strip” its strategic potential, he added. This also means the era of imported weapons is coming to an end.
In a farewell gesture, Rogozin said he was considering planting a tree in the alliance’s headquarters. Symbolically enough, this would be a poplar, or “topol” in Russian, which brings up associations with Russia’s modern intercontinental ballistic missiles Topol-M.
But NATO replied that planting a tree within the headquarters perimeter “is not possible,” so the tree will have to be planted nearby.