Russia in the Middle East: war, oil and money

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Russia has achieved military-diplomatic success in Syria. Using limited military activity and multi-vector diplomacy, as well as the weaknesses of chaotic American foreign policy, it effectively returns stability to the region, which has been torn by conflicts after the “Arab spring” of 2011.

The flaming Middle East is a deadly threat to the Muslim south of the Russian Federation. The introduction of fundamentalists there threatens Russia with destabilization. Zbigniew Brzezinski adhered to this strategy, drawing the USSR into the war in Afghanistan, now the Americans want to achieve the same goals by exporting fundamentalists from the Gulf countries. However, if Europe, paralyzed by American pressure, is not even able to defend its interests in Iran or Turkey, limiting itself to empty statements and ineffective actions, then Russia skillfully uses its modest opportunities. Before Putin’s meeting with Erdogan, the Russian president paid a visit to Saudi Arabia. It was, rather, an attempt to melt ice, rather than a stage in the development of cooperation.

Saudi interests diverge from Moscow in matters of Syria and Iran, however, the situation with oil is completely different. The strength of OPEC is melting before our eyes, but the OPEC plus format is successfully functioning: the alliance with Russia that has been emerging over the past four years. Oil prices stabilized, and speculators were unable to rock the market even after the Yemeni drones hit the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. This interaction turned out to be very profitable: the Russians estimate that in three years they managed to get an additional 110 billion dollars. Russian-Saudi negotiations are already replacing meetings in Vienna today, small producers have lost their significance and are asking a cynical question: “why do we need OPEC meetings”?

Both sides have not only oil, but also money. They feed the financial system of the West, placing revenues from the sale of hydrocarbons in global financial markets. They do not need loans, but an alternative to today’s model, in which they are powerless in the face of American demands. Bilateral contacts, mutual direct investment, trade without the use of the dollar – such mechanisms can protect against greed and anger overseas hegemon.

However, getting rid of this model takes time and effort. The concluded agreements are only partially implemented (the agreement signed two years ago assumed an investment of $ 10 billion, but so far only 2.5 billion has been disbursed). The new agreements for another 2 billion are also only preliminary agreements, which may eventually be unrealized.

In addition, trade is modest: the volume of trade between Saudi Arabia and Russia is about a billion dollars, while with the United States – 100 billion. At the same time, Washington is not asleep and demands that Riyadh buy weapons, technology, and food. It will not be easy for China, let alone Russia, to enter the Saudi market, including taking a place in the attractive sector of nuclear energy, although Russians are world leaders in investments and are present in the region: they have built a power unit in Iran, are completing construction in Turkey and are embarking on to work in Egypt. Saudi Arabia dreams of nuclear weapons, so other factors are becoming much more important here. As one of the members of the Saudi royal family once told me (there are a huge number of them): “We are not trading, we are looking for friends.”

Moreover, there can be no talk of any “strategic cooperation” with Russia: America will not allow it, and it has the appropriate tools (much more effective than those that it used in the case of Turkey). In this context, Putin’s remarks that “S-400 would protect oil refineries” can, at most, give the Saudis a boost of adrenaline. They know: for Washington to put up with the existence of their state formation with medieval customs, you need to pay. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the purchase of American weapons protect them even from the need to answer for the brutal murder of a journalist. Americans are happy with any petrodollars falling into their treasury. If only there was a lot of money, and if only no one thought of treason!

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