Monday, May 14, 2007

Russia and the Arabs: A historic comeback?

From Matein Khalid at the Khaleej Times (UAE)

The House of Saud has its own strategic rationale for its diplomatic equations with Moscow. Saudi Arabia fears an American defeat in Iraq and a precipitate withdrawal from its regional military commitments under a Democratic President in 2008, leaving Gulf geopolitics to the mercy of a resurgent Shia Iran ... Just as Soviet patronage enabled Nasser, Saddam, Sadat and Assad to extract concessions from Washington and petrodollars from the Gulf, so a Russian role in broking a peace settlement in Palestine or Iraq is in the best interest of a House of Saud sceptical about over-reliance on Washington ... As in Ukraine and Georgia, Putin hopes to use oil and gas as the new weapon of Russian foreign policy and regional influence. Hence his offer to help Saudi Arabia with nuclear plants, arms sales to most Arab and GCC states, Lukoil and Rosneft’s role in King Abdullah’s Saudi gas initiative.

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