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Russia and Iran Get Closer on Security and Syria After U.S. Vote to Punish Them

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The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, recently passed by the Senate, sanctions both Russia and Iran for alleged war crimes by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom they continue to back.
Russia and Iran have affirmed closer ties in bilateral security and on their joint efforts in Syria despite U.S. lawmakers' passage of a bill that would slap new sanctions on the two countries over their support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani met Wednesday with Russian National Security Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Tehran. In their discussions, the former "pointed to the need to deepen the two countries' efforts to ensure regional stability and security," according to Tass, the state-run Russian news agency, which cited Tehran's embassy in Moscow. Patrushev called for both countries to work closely together in Syria, especially alongside pro-opposition Turkey in their trilateral peace talks, known as the Astana process.

That same day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Tehran's ambassador in Moscow, Mehdi Sanaei, also "confirmed their commitment to further coordination of efforts aimed to alleviate tensions in the Middle East, namely within the Astana process of aiding Syrian regulation."

Both meetings appeared to signal the two nations' willingness to press on with their backing for Assad's government even after Washington voted in favor of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, a part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The former act is intended to further punish financially the Syrian leader and his supporters at home and abroad for facilitating alleged widespread human rights abuses throughout the country's ongoing civil war.

Washington cut ties with Damascus back in 2011 as the Syrian government cracked down on protests, leading to an insurgency backed by the U.S. and its allies that initially threatened Assad's rule. With help from Russia and Iran, the Syrian military made a comeback against rebels and jihadis as the Pentagon focused specifically on battling the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) with support from another non-state faction, the mostly…
Tom O'Connor
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