Handing the Middle East to Russia

(New York Post) Amir Taheri - Some 40 years ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat ended his regime's alliance with, and reliance on, the Soviet Union, and joined the Middle Eastern bloc of nations close to the U.S. The switch led to the Camp David peace accords. The Middle East now faces a power vacuum and some in the region think Russia could and should assume that role. On Syria, Obama has given Russia a permanent veto over U.S. policy. Arab sources tell me that Kerry has advised them not to press on with a new UN resolution seeking greater pressure on Assad so as not to antagonize "our Russian partners." Last month, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence and security head, flew to Moscow for talks with Vladimir Putin. Arab sources say he evoked the prospect of giving Russia a share of the kingdom's huge arms imports and joint ventures in oil and gas projects. Iran has offered Russia "preferential conditions" in developing oilfields in the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. President Hassan Rouhani even spoke of a Tehran-Moscow "strategic partnership" to rid "our region from the influence of distant powers," i.e., the U.S. Over the past six months, Moscow has played host to delegations from Pakistan, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq. Turkey, although a NATO member, has opened negotiations to purchase Russian arms. Egypt's new military dictator, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, flew to Moscow this month, the only foreign capital he has visited since his coup last July. Sisi discussed buying $2.2 billion in Russian arms - restoring the position Russia lost in the 1970s.

2014-02-17 00:00:00

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