Elaheh Koolaee

Russia and Duality of Ties in the Middle East

Date of publication : October 22, 2017 22:05 pm
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Russia's Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu (R) and his deputy Alexander Fomin during a meeting with Israel's Minister of Defence Avigdor Lieberman

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian foreign policy was soon rebuilt. Russian leaders came to the conclusion that the Middle East and the republic countries around Russia should have a more important position in its foreign policy. The presence of million Muslims in the southern republics of Russia in the Caspian Sea region led to the prioritization of ties with the Middle East and West Asia countries for Russia. Since the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, such ties have been expanded. The development of ties with certain countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria and even the Persian Gulf countries that belonged to the West began at that time.
 
Although the Soviet Union was a supporter of the formation of Israel, cold relationships governed during the Cold War. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the expansion of Russian ties with the Middle East countries, relationships also improved and entered a new phase between Moscow and Tel Aviv. Millions of people from Russia and Post-Soviet states immigrated to Israel. These immigrants made up of almost one fifth of the Israel population. For Russian leaders, Israel has always been the gateway to western technologies. Over the past 25 years, the Russians have tried to develop a smart way to regulate their ties with Israel on the one hand, and on the other hand, with Iran to win their own interests. Despite very close political, security, and military ties with Tehran, Moscow has organized its ties with Tel Aviv.
 
Like certain countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Israel has been concerned with Iran’s restoring regional power in Post-JCPOA. That is why Israel has intensified its activities against Iran. There have been long talks between Moscow and Tel Aviv so that the Israelis could prevent Iran from playing in the region, especially in Syria. With the repetitive claims and worries about Iran's presence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, Israeli leaders are trying to convince Moscow to limit ties with Iran. The recent visit of Benjamin Netanyahu to Russia was carried out in line with this purpose.
 
Tehran ties with Moscow and Moscow with Tel Aviv over more than two decades has shown that Moscow is not able to ignore the regional advantages of Iran. Therefore, Moscow is trying to maintain its extensive ties with Tehran. On the other hand, the benefits derived from the ties with Tel Aviv, and consequently Washington, cannot be ignored by Russia, too. To keep the upper hand in the region, Moscow would try to be active in both lines. Russian leaders have repeatedly insisted that countries have interests, not permanent friends and enemies.


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Elaheh Koolaee, professor in Regional Studies at University of Tehran and the head of the Research Department of Central Eurasia Studies, is the senior fellow at IRAS.



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ID: 3375
Author : Elaheh Koolaee