By Amer Al Sabaileh, Jordan Times
Over the last few years, the Middle East started to witness the presence of new political protagonists: Russia, a very strong, evident player, Germany, a strong but latent player, and China, a strong economic power.
Russia has played a role in most of the major issues in the Middle East. Since its intervention in the Syrian crisis, analysts have incorrectly predicted Russia’s next move due to an apparent misinterpretation of its motives.
Many reported that Russia’s support for Syria was limited and unreliable. And yet, Russia has successfully engaged in the region and over recent years has proved reliable to its allies. Now, as Russia has become central to everything, from regional security to the peace process, regional countries must change their approach and recognise its influence and importance.
Russian diplomacy has been instrumental to creating the potential for an end to the Syrian crisis.
Critical to the shift in the situation in Syria were also Turkey’s, the US’, Jordan’s and Saudi Arabia’s changes of stands. It was Russia’s diplomacy that determined each of these countries to shift their position.
There is now a unified effort to fight terrorism, and it is this unity that is opening political channels and building alliance.
Due to its success in Syria, Russia’s influence in the region is spreading. Russia is now allied with both Israel and Syria. Logically, that could place it in the position of mediator, and this could lead to greater support from Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority for Russia to play a role in the peace process.
Russia would create a political equilibrium since the White House instinctively backs Israel.
Russia also has long-standing good relations with Iran as well as a positive, and growing, engagement with the Gulf countries. These relations could very well help Russia play a central role in reconciling rival forces on Yemen and potentially even Qatar.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited the Gulf countries several times recently, which suggests that while Syria may be Moscow’s priority at the moment, it is taking the opportunity to broaden friendships and importance in the region.
Regional geopolitics are fluid and dynamic, witnessing new protagonists and shifting alliances.
Russia’s presence and influence in the region is unlikely to remain limited to Syria; rather, it could mark the beginning of a long-term presence in the region.