Russia is actively establishing relations with Middle Eastern countries in the context of participation in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, Moscow’s goal here is to find partner support in the confrontation with the West, including in Ukraine. Finding ways to reduce tension not only between the Jewish state and Hamas, but also in the region as a whole has become one of the key topics that is actively discussed at a special meeting of the UN Security Council. Over the course of two days, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, who heads our delegation, held meetings with representatives of several countries that have interests in resolving the conflict in the Middle East. What they talked about in the so-called Russian Room and what is the US position in the region now – in the Izvestia report.
Confrontation between Russia and the United States in the Gulf countries
The Middle East is becoming a new arena of geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the United States. And each side is trying to get the countries of this region as allies. In this situation, an important context in building relations is finding common points with the states of the Middle East region on the issue of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In the program of the Russian delegation, which is working at the UN this week, the topic of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has become one of the central ones. Over the course of two days, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who heads the delegation, held a number of meetings with representatives of the UAE, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Algeria, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
As the Russian delegation told Izvestia, the room where the Russian minister’s negotiations take place is even called the Russian Room (English – Russian/Russian room).
“It’s difficult to talk about the peace process in the Middle East now. I hope Russia will play an important role in [урегулировании] conflict. “I know that if there is an opportunity for peace, Russia will in any case act in favor of establishing peace,” Acting Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told Russian journalists.
Moscow consistently defends its position on the need to create a Palestinian state to resolve the conflict with Israel, as Sergei Lavrov once again stated at a special meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in the Middle East.
— To alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza Russia, like a number of other countries, sent hundreds of tons of food, medical products and medicines to the sector. We support the staff of UN humanitarian agencies operating on the ground“who, unfortunately, also become victims of the war, including one and a half hundred dead,” said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
At the same time, Sergei Lavrov called on the members of the UN Security Council not to succumb to admonitions that Washington has “everything under control” in the Middle East and they are “resolving issues on the ground.”
— The resourcefulness of American diplomacy, which either vetoes ceasefire resolutions or calls for a reduction in the intensity of hostilities in Gaza, is disconcerting.. It is clear that this gives carte blanche to continue the collective punishment of the Palestinians,” Lavrov emphasized.
Competition between Russia and the USA is growing
The struggle to promote their own, very different approaches to resolving the situation in the Middle East only highlights the intensifying geopolitical competition between Russia and the United States in the region, says Alexander Azadgan, a professor of business studies and international political economy from the United States.
— Russia is trying to embarrass the administration of US President Joe Biden and move closer to Gulf Arab countries to establish much closer economic ties with them.bypass the destructive impact of Western sanctions and make them ineffective,” the expert tells Izvestia.
Azadgan sees some in this attempts to destabilize US interests in the Middle East, while Washington is taking similar steps towards Moscow in the Ukrainian direction.
In the context of worsening relations with the West, Russia is looking for opportunities to maximize support from Middle Eastern states, says Sergei Demidenko, associate professor at the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation. In his opinion, diplomatic activity in finding ways to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli knot allows Moscow to establish its presence in the region.
“In the Middle East, Russian diplomacy wants to strengthen contacts with countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, which are directly called our most consistent partners,” the expert added.
US policy in the Middle East
It should be noted here that Russian activity in the Middle East is indeed increasing. Just the other day The presidents of Russia and Egypt Vladimir Putin and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, via video link, gave permission to begin pouring concrete into the base of the fourth power unit of the Egyptian Ed-Dabaa nuclear power plant.. A nuclear power plant is being built on the Mediterranean coast with the support of Rosatom.
By the way, at the beginning of December 2023, the Russian leader made working visits to the UAE and Saudi Arabia for the first time since pre-pandemic times, where he met with President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Among other things, the parties discussed interaction in OPEC+ and economic cooperation. So, turning to Al Nahyan, he said that relations between Russia and the UAE “have reached an unprecedented high level.” Also, at the end of last year, negotiations between Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took place in the Kremlin.
Besides, A summit meeting between Russia and Turkey is being actively prepared. This was previously reported by the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov. According to media reports, Vladimir Putin’s visit to the republic may take place as early as February 12.
At the same time, an important factor for understanding the development of the situation in the Middle East is the change of elites: young princes come to power who seek to customize the economy and the system of international contacts for themselves, points out Sergei Demidenko from RANEPA.
— And in this configuration, the United States did not behave quite correctly, especially in relation to Saudi Arabia, because Biden directly accuses Mohamed bin Salman of human rights violations, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and so on. And we are using this situation to expand the pool of international allies,” the expert noted.
Tensions in relations between the American administration and, in particular, Saudi Arabia were seriously discussed in the media in the fall of 2022 against the backdrop of OPEC+’s decision to reduce oil production by 2 million barrels per day. American journalists reported that this was a violation of secret agreements between countries on the planned increase in production. The White House did not even rule out the possibility of taking measures to review relations with the Saudis.
However, while the United States still maintains a serious position in the region, analysts note. However, military support for Israel against the backdrop of the war in the Gaza Strip obviously does not contribute to the establishment of ties with Arab partners. Thus, in October last year, The Wall Street Journal wrote that Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman criticizes Joe Biden in private conversations, mocks him and even doubts his mental abilities.