Russia's Hand Is Visible Everywhere in the Middle East

(National Interest) Nikolas K. Gvosdev - The Russian hand is visible everywhere in the Middle East. The Kremlin is no longer interested in spreading a particular ideology, nor does it seek to impose any sort of binary choice on countries in the region to "choose" between Moscow and Washington. Instead, the Kremlin offers itself as a more reliable mediator than Washington and proffers equipment and capabilities that Washington is reluctant to provide. Russia has been able to reestablish its presence because every country in the region, after two decades of U.S. transformational efforts, is now more interested in stability. It is clear that Washington lacks the ability to follow-through on its grandiose promises, and in particular no U.S. presidential administration is now in a position to commit large amounts of U.S. personnel or resources. The Russian approach has been to recognize that, at present, long-term solutions are not possible, so Moscow's efforts are instead focused on jury-rigging a series of compromises: the deconfliction zones in Syria; maintaining a balance between Sunni and Shia interests in Syria; guaranteeing Iran's ability to reach its Hizbullah proxies in Lebanon while allowing Israel to enforce its red lines. Moscow also expects to reap tangible benefits from its policies. Beyond validating Russia as a global power, the Russian calculation is that a return to playing a more active role in Middle Eastern affairs can create demand for Russian goods and services, starting with arms and nuclear power plants. The writer is chair of economic geography and national security at the U.S. Naval War College.

2017-10-13 00:00:00

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