Iranian Parliament Pushes Back on Military for Russian Base Use

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -
A still image, taken from video footage and released by Russia's Defence Ministry on August 16, 2016, shows a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bomber based in Iran, flying after bombs were dropped off, at an unknown location in Syria. Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
A still image, taken from video footage and released by Russia’s Defense Ministry on August 16, shows a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bomber based in Iran, flying after bombs were dropped off, at an undisclosed location in Syria. (Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation/Handout via Reuters)

Iran’s parliament on Tuesday pushed back against the military over it dismissing the need for parliamentary supervision following Russia’s use of an Iranian air base to launch airstrikes on Syria.

This rare parliamentary response is part of the larger give-and-take between the non-military civil servants and the country’s powerful security services since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also highlights the public unpopularity of allowing Russia to use the air base — which marked the first time since the revolution that a foreign military has used Iran as a staging ground.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani brought up the topic Tuesday as lawmakers gathered in Tehran for the body’s opening session, a day after Iranian officials announced that Russia’s use of the Shahid Nojeh Air Base has stopped for the time being.

The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Larijani as criticizing Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan for not “properly addressing” lawmakers’ concerns. Dehghan, over the weekend, retorted that Russia’s use of the air base was not their concern, despite the fact that parliament is indeed in charge of overseeing all government ministries.

Dehghan “should have observed the ethics of governing,” (Ed: by informing parliament) Larijani stated. Larijani noted that the mission wouldn’t have required prior parliamentary permission as it was “temporary and only for refueling.”

Three other semi-official news agencies quoted Larijani as saying that the Russian flights from the air base, located about 31 miles north of the city of Hamedan, “have not stopped.” IRNA did not report that remark.

Comments by Iranian officials since Russia announced using the base last week suggest that Moscow and Tehran initially agreed to keep Russian use of the air base quiet. Both Iran and Russia support embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s long war.