Russia returns to the Middle East

Russia returns to the Middle East


By Vestnik Kavkaza

US President Barack Obama said at the year's final press conference in the White House that the upcoming year “could be a breakthrough year for America”. He recalled the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. As for foreign political results of 2013, Obama pointed out agreements due to which “Iran won’t create a nuclear power” and in Syria “chemical weapon will be destroyed”, according to him.

At the same time, President of Russia Vladimir Putin admitted the role of America and other countries in settlement of Syrian and Iranian problems at his final press conference in 2013: “To be honest, sometimes we suggested something which became a basis for the decisions, sometimes Americans, Chinese, Europeans did it. This is a result of joint work, and it cannot be treated in another way.”

However, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, has stricter views than the Russian and American presidents. Pushkov is sure that “the Arab world is coming to see Russia again as a promising and important partner. Russia indeed is returning to the Middle East.”

According to Pushkov, the US has not succeeded in fulfilling the role of a stabilizer in the Middle East. In 1991 Russia, weakened by the collapse of the Soviet Union, in fact, removed itself from the Middle Eastern peace process. “The direction chosen by the United States proved to be extremely unproductive. Even in Libya, where the United States is proud of their war against Muammar Gaddafi, we've got an uncontrollable state where prime ministers are kidnapped, where armed gangs periodically capture airports, where law enforcement officers are being shot, by now 80 or 90 people have been killed. That is, the country is not under control. The standard of living has decreased drastically. And once again the times of Muammar Gaddafi are seen as times of stability, relative prosperity. This is a result of US policy,” Pushkov thinks.

He thinks that the Arab world also sees and understands that the United States cannot cope with the designated role of a power which can help solve Middle Eastern problems and stabilize the situation: “Basically the US is following the destabilization direction, either consciously or because they cannot find any solutions to the problems in this region. They lack power and perhaps the right orientation. That is, there is no policy, there is a set of convulsions, which leads to the results that we observe. And in this case the Arab countries hope that there will be forces that will play a stabilizing role, because no one needs a region overcome by fire from Tunisia to Iraq. The failure of American policies in the Middle East, I think, raises new interest in Russia.”

Pushkov believes that Russia has something to offer the Middle East countries. “We do not act by military means or threats. We find opportunities to influence the situation through diplomatic channels. And the Russian initiative on Syria is a purely diplomatic victory, and, by the way, everyone's victory. It seems to me that great room for action is opening up to Russia with the crisis of the role of the US in the Middle East and in the Central East, especially since many support us. We have a lot of support in the region. China supports us, many states in the region support us. People have become weary of the American presence.”

Pushkov set an example of relations with Egypt: “There was a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence of Russia and Egypt. "2 +2" is a new format that is implemented in current relations with several countries. Egypt is very interested in Russia once again becoming one of the priority partners of Egypt, after 35 years of obvious alliance with the United States starting from the times of Anwar Sadat. Mursi has come already and met with Putin and now the new leadership in Egypt demonstrates its interest in reinstating priority relations with Russia. These are different political forces, but the interest is the same, because it corresponds with the national interests of Egypt and the interests of the region.”

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