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Why Iran and Russia aren't as closely aligned on Syria as you might think

Despite the shared short-term goals that have currently united them on Syria, Iran and Russia's differences over Syria's future are bound to lead them into conflict.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) meets with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (2nd L) on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.   - RTX1SY30
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TEHRAN, Iran — Common and immediate objectives have united Iran and Russia on Syria in the short run, and this unity will probably be flexed against the West’s influence in the long term. However, when it comes to some key aspects of Syria’s future — including the nature of the government and the rebuilding of the Syrian military — differences between Tehran and Moscow are bound to come to the surface.

In broad terms, Iran and Russia have embarked on the same path and entered a new phase of the geopolitical game in Syria. A major power, Russia is trying to redefine its role in the world, as evidenced by its actions in Ukraine and Syria. After 40 years, Moscow has returned to the Middle East to prove that today’s world is different — and multipolar. Iran’s strategy also revolves around redefining its geopolitical role. Iran’s game in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and even Yemen shouldn't be considered only from an ideological point of view, but rather as the Islamic Republic seeking what can be defined as living space.

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