August 25, 2017

NATURAL ALLIES:

The Russian-Saudi rapprochement and Iran : Would Russia draw closer to Saudi Arabia and risk losing Iran? (Leonid Issaev & Nikolay Kozhanov, 8/24/17, Al Jazeera)

A number of developments in recent months have signalled a possible rapprochement between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The two countries have made a joint effort to push for further cutting of oil production to help bring up prices. Since the beginning of this year, Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak and his Saudi counterpart Khalid al-Falih have been seeking to conclude an agreement on reducing output.

In late May, then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman went to Russia to discuss with President Vladimir Putin the oil market and the situation in Syria. The visit came just three weeks before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was removed and bin Salman took his position. While in Moscow, the latter said that "relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia are going through one of their best moments ever".

Two months later, Moscow and Riyadh signed a preliminary military cooperation agreement worth $3.5bn. The Saudis have requested transfer of technology to accompany the signing of the deal.

In recent months, the two countries have also made significant progress on Syria. Under the patronage of Riyadh, Egypt provided a platform for negotiations between Moscow and the Syrian opposition.

The importance of this step for the Kremlin is obvious. Russia is extremely interested in concluding an agreement on de-escalation zones, the implementation of which is not possible exclusively within the framework of the tripartite initiative of Russia, Iran and Turkey, without the involvement of other actors. From this perspective, the role Saudi Arabia played in the signing of the two Cairo agreements between Russia and the Syrian opposition on East Ghouta and Rastan is very important.

Closer Russian-Saudi relations were seen as a positive step in Tel Aviv, Russia's "silent partner" in the Middle East. In recent years, Israel itself has enjoyed closer ties with Riyadh and its ally Abu Dhabi.

Russia, Israel and the Sa'uds all oppose Muslim democracy, while the Anglosphere and Iran support it.  The battle lines are organic.

Posted by at August 25, 2017 5:02 AM

  

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