18.09.2017 Author: Viktor Mikhin

The Middle East: Two Different Political Approaches


Recently, the most debated topics in the United States have been the disastrous aftereffects of the hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the plain inability of the current administration to actually help Americans in their trouble. But suddenly, another topic has appeared which has affected not only Americans, but the whole world. Donald Trump has unexpectedly become politically “mature”, and has started talking about the true patrons of terrorism in the Middle East.

As always, the President of the United States categorically stated at a joint press conference with the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, that the current conflict between the Persian Gulf and Qatar arouse because a number of countries in the region have been actively financing terrorist organizations: “The problems with Qatar began because of the massive financing of terrorism by a number of countries. This must be stopped.” The Emir of Kuwait added that a diplomatic solution to the problem does exist, and it will be found, when the countries sit down at the negotiation table. As is well known, in early June this year, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic relations with Doha and stopped all communications with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs.

In other words, Donald Trump has only now come to know what the world has already known for a long time. The world media has repeatedly written that the carnage in Syria is taking place only because Qatar and other conservative Persian Gulf regimes finance and militarily support terrorists. It is enough to visit any mosque in these states to see the big caskets inscribed with the appeal to render “Help to our Brothers Abroad”. And every Muslim believes it is his duty to at least leave any banknote there. However, we should not delude ourselves: the main contributors to the terrorists are the so-called public funds and state structures. This huge amount of money buys American weapons, American uniforms, and decent amounts in US dollars are given as salaries to the terrorists. As it is said, all the conditions have been created to tear up the Syrian Arab Republic. For example, the press of these Arab countries does not consider the people who are sowing death and destruction on ancient Syrian land as terrorists because they are fighting against the legitimately-elected President Bashar al-Assad.

It is beyond doubt that the same fate was expecting the Syrian people had not Russia and its Military Space Forces, which have reversed the course of events, came to their aid in these difficult times. As a result, even the American president has now become clear on who is financing the terrorists and who is undermining the situation in that part of the world. And all these “secrets of the Madrid Court” have now come out just because there has been a conflict between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, followed by a number of its satellites. And what all these countries were keeping behind bolt and bar, now came out to light.

The civil war in Syria could have been ended long ago had it not been for the external interference of the conservative Persian Gulf regimes and the United States that assisted them. Information has been received that the United States military is hurriedly removing a number of Da’esh commanders from Deir ez-Zor to use them in other locations, particularly in Afghanistan.

Of course, it would be foolish to believe that the American president knew nothing before about who was behind the terrorists. But he, like his predecessor, being, in the very literal sense of the word, bought by the rich Arab regimes, has kept quiet for a time being. It is enough to recall his first foreign visit, which (for some reason?!) was done in Saudi Arabia and where he was greeted as the “American Democrat” with royal honors, which Donald Trump absolutely loved. Riyadh simply bought the consent of the American president to turn a blind eye to everything the Saudis are doing in the Middle East. During the official visit of the President of the United States to Saudi Arabia, contracts totaling USD 350 billion in value were signed. These agreements included a weapons-supply deal in the amount of USD 110 billion, which the White House described as the largest in the history of the United States. This constitutes a decisive turn in Washington’s policy, for Barack Obama government previously signed a decree to block some of the arms deliveries due to the deaths of the civilian population in Yemen.

Besides, the King of Saudi Arabia personally gave Donald Trump 83 valuable gifts, including his portrait. The Daily mail portal reported that the billionaire was also given fur robes made from tiger and cheetah skin, as well as a pure silver dagger with a shroud of gemstones. He also received several swords, daggers, leather ammunition, holders and holsters, four boxes of gilded coins and a gold medal with a certificate. Before democrat Donald Trump, no American president had ever received such royal gifts! It is only natural that after such generous “tips”, the American president had completely close his eyes and forget about the human rights and other rights of the civilian population in Yemen, including international law concerning Riyadh and its king Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

But, as is known, “the East is a delicate business”, and for the second time a rumor have emerged that the Saudi king (if he shall be in good health) shall visit Moscow in October. The Qatari diplomatic crisis, the differences between the Arab countries and Iran and the war in Yemen have all prompted Russia to step up its game in the Middle East. In addition, the countries of the region are deeply involved in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Since Saudi Arabia is one of the key players in the region, it is given special attention.

Saudi Arabia is one of many other Arab countries that is seeking military cooperation with Russia against the backdrop of the success of the Russian Military Space Forces in Syria. In July, Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed on an arms supply deal valued at only USD 3.5 billion (remember 350 billion deal with US). The deal is expected to be concluded during the visit of King Salman.

A year ago, two sides had almost no dialog on energy issues. Since then, they have made joint efforts to further reduce oil production in order to help raise prices. Today, they are effectively coordinating their oil policies, and it has been announced that Russia and Saudi Arabia are considering the expansion of OPEC. The oil ministers of the two countries now maintain close and intensive contacts. The Russian oil company, Tatneft, has announced that it is open for cooperation with Saudi Arabia. Another Russian oil company, Rosneft, has stated that it is interested in buying the shares of the Saudi oil giant Saudi Aramco following its privatization next year. During negotiations at the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, two sides agreed to establish a joint energy investment fund.

Russia and Saudi Arabia will be able to launch joint projects in the petrochemical industry, including the field of renewable energy and liquefied natural gas technologies. Saudi Arabia will also consider participating in projects related to the production of Arctic LNG. Saudi Aramco has always been active in the gas sector, as it is already a very large gas producer. In the future, the company intends to use shale gas, and the first volumes of production are expected in the 2020-2021.

It may be recalled that the long-term development plan of Saudi Arabia, “Vision 2030”, which has already been launched, shall allow the kingdom to move from dependence on oil revenues to a diversified modern economy, as well as strengthen the military capacity, which will, in turn, facilitate the implementation of its independent foreign policy. And in this context, Russia is a partner in the far-reaching ambitious plans of the kingdom, and the potential for the development of bilateral relations is quite interesting.

Comparing the policies of the two states, that is, the US and Russia, with respect to Saudi Arabia, clearly shows which country is making headway, taking into account each other’s interests, as well as enhancing the political and economic potential of the states of the Persian Gulf region, and which one is only interested in pumping other countries with weapons, dealing only in its own interests, a position that Washington is clearly demonstrating.

Victor Mikhin, a corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.