War of wits in the Middle East

War of wits in the Middle East

Baku, Azerbaijan, December 5

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Russia's actions in Syria have made a strong impression on many Arab countries and have become a trigger of the rapid growth of Russian influence in the Middle East.

Many leaders in the region, irritated and kept off-balance by the unpredictable policy of the United States, are readily seeking to establish contacts with Russia, renewing once existing friendly relations with Moscow.

In turn, Moscow, having lost almost all of its influence in the Middle East after the collapse of the USSR, is now actively working to restore partnership relations with almost all states of the region.

The Persian Gulf has always been considered the sphere of Washington's complete influence with Saudi Arabia being its closest Arab partner and ally. However, in recent years, many facts indicate that the Saudis are trying to get away from unilateral dependence and to diversify their foreign policy relations.

Whereas previously the Gulf monarchs were frightened by the "red plague" - the Communist ideology pursued by the Soviet Union, now this argument has lost sense. So, it’s good time to adjust the sails of foreign policy, commencing cooperation with Russia on the basis of national interests.

At the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, everyone paid attention to how President Putin and the crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomed each other. Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that he had never seen the head of the Russian state so warmly greeted someone from the world politicians, and explained that as a sign of good personal relations.

Amid allegations against the crown Prince, who is considered by many to be directly involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Hashoggi, President Putin made it clear that he attaches great importance to relations with Riyadh.

If, at the level of Congress, despite President Trump's rhetoric about the importance of Saudi Arabia for the United States, tough decisions will be made against Riyadh, then here it is – Moscow with its welcoming embrace.

This seems impossible, considering long-term US protection of the Kingdom, but on the other hand, there have been enough surprising events in recent years that seemed impossible.

Who in the world could have imagined that in the center of Istanbul, behind the walls of a diplomatic mission, a human body will be dismembered?

The rapprochement between Russia and Saudi Arabia is taking and can take place in several directions: the oil and gas sector and control over prices on the oil market, the post-war order of Syria, nuclear energy, the acquisition of the latest Russian weapons, Moscow's possible mediation in establishing relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

For Washington, it could be a nightmare if, for example, Russian Rosatom wins a tender for the construction of a nuclear power plant and provides nuclear reactors with the possibility of further enrichment of uranium by the Saudis. Or, if deliveries of Russian S-400 missile systems begin – the two countries have already had preliminary agreements in these areas.

However, Washington has many strong arguments for their Saudi allies, the main of which are military bases scattered throughout the Persian Gulf, as well as the presence of the US Navy 5 Fleet in the region.

In late November, the Kremlin announced a possible visit of President Putin to Saudi Arabia. This issue is on the agenda, said the assistant to President Putin Yuri Ushakov, RIA Novosti reported.

However, the visit is unlikely to take place until the final point in the Hashoggi case is reached, and possible consequences for Saudi Arabia and the crown Prince personally are made clear, especially by Washington.

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