How Russia Becomes Major Negotiator in the Middle East
REUTERS/ Stringer/File PhotoOpinion21:51 01.09.2017(updated 02:29 02.09.2017) Get short URL1707120
Russia has earned its reputation as an “unbiased broker,” according to RIA Novosti contributor Gevorg Mirzayan. The academic emphasized Russia’s balanced approach toward the Middle Eastern affairs, stressing that Moscow is interested in maintaining the balance of power rather than taking sides.
Russia has recently emerged as an impartial mediator of the burning Mideast foreign policy issues, overtaking Washington, Gevorg Mirzayan, associate professor at the Department of Political Sciences at the Finance University of the Russian Government, opined in his recent article for RIA Novosti.
The academic underscored that despite speculation that Russia is taking sides in the Middle Eastern arena, the facts prove otherwise: Moscow is not interested in sowing discord between regional players.
Russia’s position on Mideast foreign affairs was clearly articulated by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his recent tour to Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani on August 30, Lavrov stressed that simmering crises in Syria, Libya, and Iraq “must be settled exclusively through an inclusive dialogue between all ethnic and religious forces without any external interference.”
Russia’s foreign minister reiterated that “the people themselves can decide the future of their country.”
In regard to the Qatari diplomatic crisis, Lavrov emphasized that Moscow is convinced that solutions to this problem “must be based on mutually acceptable approaches” adding that the Kremlin “reaffirmed [its] support” for the mediation efforts of Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait.
“We are ready to contribute to these efforts if the parties believe that this would be useful,” Lavrov told journalists in Doha, adding that “regarding Russia’s role, we are not acting as mediators [in the Qatari crisis].”
Earlier, on August 28, during his visit to Kuwait, he said that Russia hails the country’s efforts to solve the Qatari problem and is “ready to promote this in the forms that would be acceptable to all sides involved.”
“We support the Kuwaiti initiative and do not intend to compete with anyone,” Lavrov stressed.
The Russian foreign minister also pointed out that Moscow is highly interested in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) staying “united,” and underscored the importance of the organization as “a vital player” in the “nascent polycentric world.”
According to Mirzayan, Russia is committed to maintaining the balance of power between regional players. At the same time, Moscow could play a role of a mediator if the countries of the Middle East need an “unbiased broker.”
In this light, Washington’s “reliability” as a mediator is “questionable” given its close ties with Riyadh, according to the academic.
In the light of Russia’s balanced approach toward Middle Eastern affairs, it is likely that Moscow will play a key role in the resolution of the Syrian crisis, Mirzayan wrote. The war against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) in the region has entered its final phase and the question on everyone’s mind is what approach Moscow will adopt toward the conflict between Damascus and the opposition forces.
The academic highlighted that Moscow is interested in the peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Speaking to reporters in Abu-Dhabi on August 29, Lavrov revealed that Moscow supports Saudi Arabia’s initiative to unite three Syrian opposition platforms in an effort to begin “really substantial, meaningful negotiations about the future of Syria.”
At the same time, the Russian foreign minister stressed that in order to settle the long-standing political crisis in Syria, the country’s opposition should stop making ultimatums that do not fall under the framework set by the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s diplomatic offensive toward the Middle East is not over yet, Mirzayan remarked: Lavrov is due to visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan this September.