Hossein Ruyvaran, Iranian political analyst who teaches at the University of Tehran, explained that the cooperation between Russia and Iran also includes the fight against terrorism, and providing the capabilities of Hamadan airfield to Russian forces is a jointly approved measure and element of this anti-terrorist partnership.
However, this move sparked debates among Iranian politicians as some of them questioned the legitimacy of this move.
"The chief issue being discussed comes down to this: does allowing the Russian Aerospace forces use the capabilities of this airbase violate the Article 14b of the Iranian Constitution or not? Because according to this article, any form of leasing an airfield to a foreign power to be used as an airbase – even for a peacekeeping mission – is forbidden," Ruyvaran explained.
He pointed out however that Iranian military officials, including the Minister of Defense Hossein Dehghan himself, explained that this arrangement cannot be considered as establishing of a foreign military base on Iranian soil.
"Tehran merely provided the technical capabilities of one of its airfields in order for the Russian aircraft to conduct missions in Syria and then to return home to Russia. The act of granting technical capabilities does not equal leasing the entire airbase to Russia," the analyst said.
It should be noted that the current political climate in Iran, with only several months left until the presidential elections of 2017, makes allowing a foreign power to establish a long-term military presence on Iranian soil highly unlikely.
As the struggle between moderate Iranian politicians and radical fundamentalists becomes more intense, the position of President Hassan Rouhani became somewhat more shaky that it was right after the nuclear deal in 2015 and following his party’s victory during the parliamentary elections in February.
Rouhani’s opponents seek to use every opportunity to prevent him from winning the presidential elections in May 2017, and his tacit approval of allowing Russia to use an Iranian airbase is apparently going to be used against him by his enemies.