Russian Syria Bombing Jeopardizes Its Ties with Sunni World

(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) Charles Recknagel - Moscow could lose significant influence in the Middle East as nations there react angrily to its bombing of Syrian opposition targets. Russia has enraged Turkey by launching air strikes against Islamist groups in Syria that Ankara supports. This is delaying a massive new Russian gas pipeline project with Turkey. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and many other states have repeatedly called on Moscow to halt its bombing campaign. "It is almost completely unanimous that the Arab governments are against the [Russian] bombing campaign," said Paul du Quenoy, a professor of history at the American University of Beirut. "Most of the Russian targets, including the [secular] Free Syrian Army and most of the Islamist opposition groups, are Sunni Muslims and most of the Arab states have majority Sunni populations." One Arab capital, Cairo, has spared Moscow from criticism. "We believe that the [Russian intervention] will have an impact on the fight against terrorism in Syria and help eliminate it," Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said on Oct. 4. Boris Zilberman, an analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says Cairo appears to consider cooperating with Russia more important than forcing out Assad, after deals that Russia recently signed with Egypt on economic cooperation, arms, and a potential agreement on civil nuclear energy.

2015-10-09 00:00:00

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