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Russia Asserts Presence in the Middle East

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Russia Asserts Presence in the Middle East

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As instability in the Middle East grows, Russia continues to maintain a visible presence in the region. Despite the controversy public association with Iran and Syria might bring, the country is showing no sign of abandoning these two allies.

According to The National, which quoted an editorial in pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, Moscow is questioning the West’s true motives in the region and is now “…waking up from a period of hibernation and is coming back strongly in the region to protect its interests.”

While initially joining the West in favor of certain actions being taken in the region, such as deposing Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Russia has publicly declared support of Syria and Iran in their respective conflicts. And, the piece continued, Russia “is now determined to counter forcefully any US attempts to topple the Syrian and Iranian regimes” and “not let down its Syrian and Iranian allies” (ibid.).

Damascus and Tehran consider the Kremlin a trustworthy partner and a key factor in ensuring geopolitical balance in the Middle East. The feeling is certainly mutual as Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs declared in a recent Pravda article that his nation would do “everything possible to prevent the development of possible military intervention in Iran.”

Russia is not alone in its support of certain countries in the region. China will not easily give up its abundance of natural resources from the Middle East or jeopardize relationships so vital to its economic well-being.

“China relies on the Middle East and North Africa for almost half its oil imports, in contrast to the United States, which sources most crude and condensate from other countries in the western hemisphere, with extra supplies from West Africa,” John Kemp, a Reuters market analyst, wrote in an article titled “China’s Growing Strategic Stakes in the Middle East.”

“The increasingly important commercial ties between China and major suppliers in the Middle East and Africa have been widely analysed. But China’s growing import dependence also has a security dimension as it seeks to increase its influence in the region, which will undoubtedly lead to increased competition with the United States” (ibid.).

A recent Jerusalem Post article speculated that Russia and China have gone so far as to partner with Iran and Syria to conduct “joint military exercises” on Syrian soil and waters. The article called the event the “Middle East’s largest ever military exercise.”

The exercises, which involve ground troops, air and naval forces, make a bold statement to the world where the Kremlin’s allegiances rest.

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