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Russia’s balanced diplomacy in Middle East on rise as US policy crashes

12 22 0
15.10.2019

The high respect afforded to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit this week to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates speaks of a new geopolitical reality in the region. Both countries are traditional US allies, but it is Russia that appears to be the one held in more regard.

Russia’s pragmatic policy of “talking with everyone” sees it maintaining good relations with a host of nations, notwithstanding that several of these nations are among themselves either estranged or implacable enemies. Putin is hosted by the Saudi and Emirati monarchs despite the fact that Moscow has a growing alliance with Iran – the perceived Shia nemesis of the Sunni potentates in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Russia is a staunch defender of Syria which puts it at odds with an array Middle East states, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel, which have sponsored a proxy war to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. Yet, in spite of this, Moscow has also attained close relations with Syria’s adversaries. It’s an impressive balancing act.

This is not just a matter of Russia sidling alongside everyone from an unscrupulous, expedient policy. Moscow has criticized Israel for its air strikes on Syrian territory, warning it to back off. Russia has also censored Saudi and other Gulf Arab states for hostility towards Iran and for blaming Tehran for sabotage attacks on shipping in the region without any evidence. Moscow has at times condemned the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

Russia’s foreign policy is principled and consistent. For nations it is historically aligned with, like Syria and Iran, it remains loyal in its strategic commitments. A classic example is Russia’s military intervention from the end of 2015 to defend the Syrian nation from imminent defeat by Western, NATO and Arab-backed proxies.

Russia has consistently backed Iran in terms........

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