RUSSIA’S NEW ROLE IN THE NEW MIDDLE EAST
Russia bets on the end of the Syrian conflict before the year’s end. The Amman-based Military Operations Center (MOC), which was established by the US and its allies to monitor and train armed opposition groups, including the Free Syrian Army and the Tribes Army, has finally been shut down. With the return of the Syrian army to the south of the country, near the crossing point with Jordan, there are mounting signs that the conflict is drawing to a close, especially given that America is no longer backing the opposition, which now finds itself in disarray.
Russia is not only affecting politics in Syria, Iraq and North Africa, but also those in the Arabian Peninsula, such as the crisis between Qatar and the other Gulf Cooperation Council members and the war in Yemen. Moscow tries to balance its policy toward Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain with non-interference.
In sum, Moscow has started to change the anti-Russian sentiment in the Middle East through its political, economic and media influence by partnerships, economic assistance, military assistance and strategic cooperation. Russia has learned from previous lessons in Yemen, Iraq, Algeria and Afghanistan that, in order to be effective, it needs to be symbolically present without being extensively involved in these Middle Eastern affairs, as long as there are representatives or proxies that can help achieve the objectives with fewer harmful repercussions for Moscow.
Qatar and Russia to 'bolster' economic ties
Two of the world's largest energy producers, Qatar and Russia, on Wednesday vowed to increase trade ties at a time when the emirate is facing an economic boycott from neighbouring states.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the commitment after a "lengthy" meeting in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and before that, the country's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
"We are committed to bolstering trade and economic ties," Lavrov told reporters afterwards.
Russian FM Lavrov in Middle East push to resolve Qatar crisis
Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Kuwait City on Monday marks the first high-level diplomatic visit by Russia over the crisis, which began on June 5. Lavrov also will visit Qatar and the UAE on his trip.
Kuwait’s ruler has tried to mediate an end to a boycott by four Arab nations against Qatar, as have the US, France and other world powers.
Russia hoping to boost arms sales after Syrian usage
Russia is hopeful that the new weapons it tested for the first time in Syria will lead to a spike in arms sales abroad, officials said Wednesday.
Foreign customers, they said, have been particularly interested in the weapons that the Russian military have used in Syria. Moscow has waged an air campaign there since September 2015, helping President Bashar Assad sharply expand the area under his control.
Egypt looks to buy 50 advanced armoured vehicles from Russia
Egypt is planning to purchase 50 Tigr armoured vehicles from Russia, the CEO of Russia’s Military Industrial Company (VPK) Alexander Krasovitsky, has said.
The Egyptian Ministry of Internal Affairs has expressed interest in the Russian-made armoured vehicles, which would be deployed to police forces once the deal is made.
The GAZ Tigr 4×4 armoured police vehicle is more advanced than current police vehicles and consists of advanced features such as stronger armour, embrasures in the windows, two hatches and tow rope on the roof, an improved braking system, and flexibility in all terrain, including its ability to operate in water 1.2 metres deep.
350 Russian Children in Middle East Conflict Zones, Says Russian Official
here are around 350 Russian children in conflict zones in the Middle East including Syria, Russia’s children’s rights ombudswoman Anna Kuznetsova was cited as saying on Tuesday by the Interfax news agency.
Most of the children are from Russia’s North Caucasus regions of Chechnya and Dagestan, Kuznetsova said.
“Dagestan accounts for more than 200 [children], according to [government] figures,” she was cited as saying.
Many of the children were taken to Syria, Interfax reported, citing Kuznetsova’s press service.
The statement comes after RT reported earlier this month that at least 48 Russian children were marooned in Mosul, Iraq