These historical memories are anything but forgotten.Today, the Russian foreign and security policy community contains a number of experts on the Middle East, mostly Arabists.To recap, Putin’s general objective in the Middle East is to establish Russia’s status and role as a major outside power in one of the world’s most volatile regions.Other key objectives include: Moscow’s current priorities include engineering a Syrian peace deal jointly with the United States; expanding ties with Iran to benefit from the lifting of sanctions; furthering relations with Egypt, Iraq, and the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq, to create an axis of partners from Tehran to Cairo; establishing, to the extent possible, pragmatic relations with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states; and staying in close touch with Israel.They have to fight, for the first time, in an Arab country, mostly from the air and sea.For the Russian defense industry, countries in the Middle East and North Africa are important customers.Persia was de facto divided between Russia and Britain into respective zones of influence. Petersburg’s designs on Constantinople and the Turkish Straits were a main reason Russia joined World War I.The Soviet Union’s active involvement in the Middle East began in the mid-1950s, and soon resulted in an intense rivalry with the United States.
The country’s overall population is 12 percent Muslim.Thus, the principal drivers of the Kremlin’s policies in the Middle East are geopolitical.Moscow’s concern for domestic stability is also important.Rostatom is also working on projects in Turkey and Jordan.
A Russian private oil company, Lukoil, is active in Iraq.
More than ever before, they are now joined by the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff personnel.