Both countries realize each other’s importance and strong points. Russia is a big country that plays an important international and regional role. In recent years, for example, it has provided huge support for Bashar Assad. That role was not clear to Riyadh because of Iranian intervention. We should differentiate between Moscow’s role in Syria, which we must understand, and that of Tehran, which is unacceptable.
Russia’s regional presence is not only acceptable but desirable, in order to help counter terror and stabilize the Middle East. Riyadh is interested in sharing this role, in addition to its role in the US-led coalition.
Saudi Arabia today is playing an important role in the region in order to counter terrorism and deter destructive Iranian intervention. The Kingdom is leading an Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen, and heading an Islamic coalition against terrorism. All these efforts are for one purpose: To stabilize the region and preserve security and international peace.
Moscow realizes this very well, but its interests sometimes intersect with Tehran’s. Is this the correct way to guarantee Russian interests on the one hand and regional stability on the other? Most countries in the Middle East are Arab, some of which — such as Iraq — have been damaged by Iranian intervention.
There is a need to work with key players in the region, and one of the biggest is Saudi Arabia. It is the most important Muslim country, and one of the biggest G-20 economies. Riyadh, like Moscow, plays a pivotal role diplomatically and politically. Today, the Kingdom sees in Russia an important friend looking to be a partner and ally.
Saudi Arabia is the most important Muslim country, and one of the biggest G-20 economies. Riyadh, like Moscow, plays a pivotal role diplomatically and politically.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri
To bring this about, Saudi Arabia will sign huge deals in technology, renewable energy, nuclear plants for civilian purposes, and infrastructure. Riyadh is interested in nationalizing the weapons industry, signing contracts to buy weapons and obtaining new technologies, such as the S-400 missile system.
In addition, both countries must work closely together to reach an agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC oil producers in order to cut global output and boost prices. Riyadh and Moscow can play a big regional role, especially in security matters, by working together.
Iranian intervention in the region will never be acceptable. It will create further instability and provide justification for more militias to intervene. Tehran wants more Daesh and other terrorists on the ground in order to justify its interventions. Iran has been immune to attacks because it has hosted Al-Qaeda leaders. We must not forget the deal between Hezbollah and Daesh in Jroud Arsal under Iran’s umbrella.
These issues were studied by both sides during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s earlier visits to Moscow. It is time to begin a new era in countering terror, stabilizing the region and making good economic deals.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.