«Russia takes an increasingly prominent place in the middle East and North Africa, since it began to carry out air strikes in Syria, two years ago, – writes columnist for the British newspaper The Times Michael Burleigh. – And not only in military helicopters, fighter aircraft, tanks and submarines». As the journalist notes, «President Putin and his foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ubiquitous in the region but, more importantly, most middle Eastern rulers, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran and Egypt are considering Moscow as a player who should be consulted». What are the intentions of Russia, and should the West worry? – asks the author.
According to a new report of the analytical center Rand Corporation (Santa Monica, CA), a large part of what Russia is doing in the middle East, has a more short-term goals, the article says. «Since her access to loans from Western banks was limited by sanctions, the Russian direct investment Fund siphons money from sovereign funds of the five countries of the cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf,» writes Burleigh.
«Russia would like to have a piece of the $ 200 billion that are expected to be spent on reconstruction of Syria. This partly explains why it has deployed there Chechens-Sunni, speaking in Arabic, who has acquired experience in the fanciful reconstruction of Grozny, a city which Putin once razed to the ground, continues the columnist. – Russia would also like the stabilization of oil prices and their new growth – that’s why Putin is attentive to the Saudis». Rosatom wants to sell nuclear reactors in the oil region that seeks to diversify its energy sources, while «Rosoboronexport» expects, using the demonstration of weapons in a real situation in Syria (courtesy advertised on YouTube), to sell a relatively cheap weapon, the author continues.
«Although Russia was wise enough not to allow to take root in Moscow a large-scale lobbying operations that distort American policy in the region, sooner or later she will have to make difficult decisions about who supports it, – said the journalist. – The existing policy of «minimax» – a maximum of opportunism, coupled with minimal losses – perhaps at this very moment to fall apart, especially when there is no justifiable strategic interest as the preservation of air bases and naval bases on the Mediterranean coast, Assad’s Syria».
While Putin may be a skilled tactician, it is doubtful that he is a very good strategist, particularly in the region where the local many options and tricks, the paper concludes.